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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 118-139
 Header Item Passport Applications
 Header Item International Agreements
 Header Item Syrian Conflict
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Conflict Resolution
 Header Item Birth Certificates
 Header Item Foreign Conflicts
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Middle East Issues
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Property Tax Exemptions
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Vehicle Registration Data
 Header Item Banking Sector Regulation
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item VAT Yield
 Header Item Central Bank of Ireland
 Header Item Insurance Industry

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 98 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 118-139

Passport Applications

 118. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of passport applications for persons (details supplied). [50231/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act 2008 as amended (“the 2008 Act”). The 2008 Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him/her. Entitlement to Irish citizenship is in turn determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 as amended (“the 1956 Act”), under which and in general Irish citizenship may be obtained by birth, by descent or by naturalisation.

  I am advised by the Passport Service that there is insufficient details supplied to locate an application or enquiry in respect of the persons to which you refer and so the following is by way of general advice.

  A person is entitled to Irish citizenship (and therefore a passport) if they were born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005 or after that date subject to certain conditions. Section 6A of the 1956 Act, provides that person born in the State on or after 1 January 2005 where neither parent is an Irish or British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without restriction, may claim citizenship by birth in the State where a parent has been lawfully resident in the State for 3 years of the 4 years preceding their birth.

  Furthermore, if a person was born abroad to an Irish born parent he or she is automatically and Irish citizen. If born abroad to a parent also born abroad, but whose grandparent was born in Ireland, the person can claim Irish citizenship by registering their birth on the Department’s Foreign Birth register - see www.dfa.ie for further details.

  If a person cannot claim Irish citizenship through birth or descent, they may be able to claim citizenship through naturalisation, subject to certain residency requirements. This is a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality and further information may be obtained on www.inis.gov.ie.

  Information on all passport related matters, including the documents required to support a claim to Irish citizenship is available on the Passport Service website at www.dfa.ie/passport.

International Agreements

 119. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if Ireland will be a signatory to the UN global compact for migration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50252/18]

 126. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the United Nations global compact for migration and asylum seeking; if the Government proposes to sign up to this compact; the issues he is considering in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50405/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 126 together.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be adopted at the UN Intergovernmental Conference which will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, on 10-11 December next.

The Compact, though non-binding and respectful of national sovereignty, provides a strong framework for global cooperation on migration in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ireland is supportive of the Global Compact, and efforts to ensure that migration, when it does occur, is safe, orderly and better managed. The Compact represents common ground for cooperation between countries and regions which have very different perspectives on, and experiences, of migration.

Ireland was proud to co-facilitate, with Jordan, the New York Declaration in 2016 that led to the Global Compacts on both Migration and Refugees; we have played our part in achieving this multilateral effort to address an issue of common concern.

This is against a background where individual States cannot address challenges relating to migration alone. For example, cross-border efforts are essential if human smuggling and trafficking is to be reduced. Ireland is also supportive of efforts to address the root causes of forced displacement and irregular migration, including through our participation in the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

The Department of Justice and Equality take the lead role on the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, and my Department is also engaged on the preparations for the UN Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakech. Ireland will be represented by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan T.D.

Finally, the Global Compact will be adopted at the Conference by consensus (or a vote may be called, with a two thirds majority required) after which the Document will be presented to the UN General Assembly for final and formal adoption, probably later in December or in January 2019.

Syrian Conflict

 120. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the assessment of the impact of sanctions on Syria that has been undertaken; the findings of such an assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50254/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The situation in Syria continues to be a matter of grave concern, and I take this opportunity to reiterate my condemnation of the violence against civilians that has been the hallmark of this conflict to date. The conflict was sparked, more than seven years ago, by brutal repression of dissent by the Assad regime. The conduct of the conflict, including the use of chemical weapons and medieval “starve or surrender” tactics, is estimated to have cost the lives of over 400,000 people. It has led to a situation in which 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, over 6 million people are displaced internally, and a further 5.5 million have fled to neighbouring countries and the wider region.

  Sanctions are a tool which the international community may use to put political pressure on those who commit violence against their own people. Targeted EU sanctions are in place against people and entities that are complicit in the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria. The first person on this EU list is Bashar Al Assad, whose brutal pursuit of this conflict, neglecting all opportunities to seek a political solution, has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. There are numerous barriers to humanitarian access in Syria as a result of actions by the parties to the conflict, particularly the Assad regime.

  Ireland has consistently supported EU sanctions targeting the Assad regime and its supporters, and will continue to do so as long as the situation in Syria justifies these measures.  

  The EU’s Basic Principles on the Use of Restrictive Measures state that “Sanctions should be targeted in a way that has maximum impact on those whose behaviour we want to influence. Targeting should reduce to the maximum extent possible any adverse humanitarian effects or unintended consequences for persons not targeted ….” Accordingly, the EU’s Syria sanctions include specific exemptions for essential civilian needs and for humanitarian assistance. Ireland has been a consistent advocate for ensuring such exemptions are included.

  In line with the EU strategy on Syria, the EU is maintaining its restrictive measures against the Syrian regime and its supporters as long as the repression of civilians continues. To repeal these sanctions could be misconstrued as tacit acquiescence in the actions of the Assad regime and therefore serve to encourage a belief in impunity with regard to attacks on civilians, and disregard for the UN-led peace process.

  The EU does however keep the impact of sanctions under constant review, and will consider options to mitigate any unintended consequences which can be documented as relating directly to the measures themselves, as distinct from the more general economic disruption caused by the conflict. The relevant working groups in Brussels propose options to address any unintended negative impacts where they are identified. Those who are working to deliver aid in the complex environment inside Syria constantly assess the impact of various factors, including sanctions, on their ability to deliver aid, and where relevant issues arise, officials from my Department raise these matters in discussions at EU level.

  For example, in 2016 the EU amended the Syria sanctions regime to make it easier for NGOs operating in Syria to buy fuel. In 2017, EU Member States including Ireland consulted with NGOs to identify any further difficulties they were experiencing in carrying out humanitarian work in Syria that may have been linked to the sanctions. Based on the feedback of the NGOs, the European Commission published a Frequently Asked Questions document to clarify certain provisions of the sanctions identified as unclear by NGOs, as well as the humanitarian exemptions and derogations. In April of this year, EU Member States reviewed best practice guidelines on humanitarian exemptions, with a view to facilitating the work of NGOs responding to humanitarian crises, including the crisis in Syria. I welcome the ongoing work to implement the findings of previous reviews.

Ministerial Meetings

 121. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the public events he attended, by county, since 1 May 2018 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [50284/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Details of public events that I have attended between 1 May and to date in 2018 are set out in the following table.

Location Public Event Date
Antrim Remembrance Sunday 11/11/2018
  National Famine Commemoration 12/05/2018
  Public Consultations on Government of Ireland New International Development Policy 13/09/2018
  Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 05/10/2018
  Unveiling of Midleton WWI Memorial 10/06/2018
Cork Commemoration Ceremony of Armistice, Camden Fort 04/11/2018
  McGill Summer School 23/07/2018
Donegal Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 30/11/2018
  Good Friday 20th Anniversary Events 22/05/2018
  National Day of Commemoration 08/07/2018
  Annual 1916 Easter Rising Ceremonies 09/05/2018
  Launch of Public Consultations on Government of Ireland New International Development Policy 12/07/2018
  Public Consultations on Government of Ireland New International Development Policy 02/10/2018
  Launch of the State of the World Population Report 2018 17/10/2018
Dublin Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 02/10/2018
Galway Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 12/10/2018
Limerick Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 23/11/2018
Monaghan Getting Ireland Brexit Ready 19/10/2018

Conflict Resolution

 122. Deputy Eugene Murphy Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to ensure Ireland increases its diplomatic efforts through the EU to ensure South Sudan's fragile peace deals hold; the steps being taken to continue to fund and support the conflict resolution and peace building efforts at community level by a council (details supplied) in partnership with INGOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [50308/18]

 129. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if Ireland will increase its diplomatic efforts through the EU to ensure South Sudan's fragile peace deals hold; the extent to which Ireland is supporting the humanitarian efforts in South Sudan that are addressing the root causes of the conflict; if his Department continues to fund and support the vital conflict resolution and peace building efforts at community level by a council (details supplied) in partnership with international non-governmental organisations, INGOs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [50765/18]

 130. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the diplomatic efforts being made to resolve the conflict in South Sudan; the humanitarian aid being made available to the victims of the conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50937/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I propose to take Questions Nos. 122, 129 and 130 together.

South Sudan continues to endure a terrible humanitarian crisis, primarily the consequence of conflict. I am deeply concerned by the continued high level of violence, and by reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, which perpetuate the crisis and impact negatively on its scale.

The current conflict began in 2013 and has had devastating consequences for civilians. The war, compounded by drought, has led to severe food insecurity and caused massive population displacement and suffering throughout the country, with women and girls suffering the most. More than 400,000 people have died and an estimated 7 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

On 12 September last, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, signed a peace agreement with the opposition. While this peace agreement has the potential to mark a new departure, it is critical that South Sudan’s leaders implement it without delay. Achieving lasting peace will require sustained effort and commitment as well as a genuinely inclusive approach to building the future South Sudan.

Ireland strongly supports efforts to build peace in South Sudan. In November 2017, during his visit to Addis Ababa, the Tánaiste met representatives of IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the African Union to discuss the situation in South Sudan. On that visit, the Tánaiste announced funding to the IGAD High Level Revitalisation Forum, the process which delivered the revised peace agreement. Ireland will continue to support IGAD’s work on monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreement in 2019.

Our Embassy in Addis Ababa, which is accredited to South Sudan, monitors the situation and engages with local, regional and international parties on an ongoing basis. The Irish Ambassador in Addis Ababa visits Juba frequently where she meets with key government, UN, NGO, Red Cross and diplomatic partners, including the EU Delegation. Her most recent visit took place last week.

We are committed to supporting efforts towards peace in South Sudan and have contributed to projects aimed at peace building. In 2018, this has included supporting partners’ meditation efforts and empowering civil society, in particular women’s groups, to facilitate their engagement in peace processes. As well as our direct bilateral support, we are actively involved in the efforts of the EU to support peace in South Sudan. Two officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been seconded to the EU Delegation in South Sudan, including one as Head of Mission. The EU Delegation is strongly supportive of the peace process, in particular by providing support to the implementing and monitoring bodies of the peace agreement. The Tánaiste discussed these efforts with the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos, when he visited Dublin on 7 November.

While a sustained resolution to the conflict is the ultimate goal, we have a duty now to deal with immediate humanitarian needs. Since 2012, Ireland has provided €61 million in direct humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. Over €10 million in Irish funding has been provided so far this year, including to Irish NGOs to assist them in reaching the most vulnerable. Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Oxfam, Trócaire and World Vision, with support from Irish Aid, are working in partnership with local organisations and NGO networks to provide lifesaving supplies to meet the basic needs of those suffering from the conflict.

As well as this direct bilateral aid, Ireland has also contributed significantly to humanitarian support in South Sudan through the multilateral system. Ireland is a significant contributor to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which has allocated $187 million to alleviate the crisis in South Sudan since 2011, as well as to the EU, which has provided more than €90 million so far this year.

With humanitarian needs likely to remain acute in 2019, Irish funding will continue to support both those in need inside South Sudan as well as South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries.

Birth Certificates

 123. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding an application by a person (details supplied). [50309/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The application for Foreign Birth Registration to which the Deputy referred was approved on 24 October 2018. This decision was communicated to the applicant’s father and his solicitor at that time.

Foreign Conflicts

 124. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the security situation that human rights defenders are facing in Guatemala (details supplied); and if he will raise the deteriorating situation with his Guatemalan counterpart and request that the Government of Guatemala conducts prompt investigations and legal prosecution of those responsible for murders, attacks and harassment against defenders. [50329/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am aware of the difficult situation that currently exists for human rights defenders in Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is monitoring developments closely and remains committed to supporting the advancement of human rights in the region.

I wholly condemn any intimidation or violence against those seeking to defend their rights, and I would like to extend my sympathies to all those effected. A free, fair, and open civil society space is essential for a democratic society that functions for all.

Guatemala has made some advances in its political and social development over the past two decades, since the gradual cessation of armed conflict from 1996 onwards. While overcoming the legacy of human rights crimes committed during the country’s three decades of civil war remains a challenge, it is an essential element of Guatemala’s development as a democratic society. I urge the Government of Guatemala to address historical impunity at all levels, and to fully investigate the incidents to which the Deputy refers and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Ireland engaged in the Review of Guatemala during the 28th Session of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council in Geneva in November 2017. We took this opportunity to voice concerns over the levels of violence, intimidation, harassment, and criminalisation faced by human rights defenders in Guatemala. Ireland called on the Government of Guatemala to take all necessary measures to protect human rights defenders and to allow them to carry out their important work in safety.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also meet regularly with human rights defenders and civil society organisations active in Latin America, including in Guatemala, who provide valuable insight into the situation on the ground.

While Ireland does not have a resident Embassy in Guatemala City, in keeping with our commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and working with partners on the ground, we will continue to follow the situation in Guatemala closely, and to raise our concerns regarding threats against human rights defenders in discussions on Guatemala at EU and international level.

Departmental Contracts Data

 125. Deputy Kate O'Connell Information on Kate O'Connell Zoom on Kate O'Connell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of contracts or tenders that have been awarded to a company (details supplied); the amount the company has been paid; the services the contracts were for; and the number of public sector and-or publicly funded catering facilities being run by the company.  [50364/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No contracts or tenders have been awarded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to the company referred to by the Deputy.

  Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 119.

Middle East Issues

 127. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has discussed issues (details supplied) with his Israeli counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50630/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have consistently made very clear on behalf of the Government that settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are contrary to international law. The relentless processes by which Palestinians are pressured from their homes and off the land, in order to make way for Israeli settlers, are a daily reminder of the urgency of bringing this occupation to an end. These processes include the impossibility of obtaining planning permission for permanent structures, demolitions, denial of fair access to water for farming and livestock, and a legal regime which leaves many ordinary civilians governed by Israeli military law, rather than being governed by laws and judges who represent the community being governed.

We have on many occasions discussed specific cases here in the Oireachtas. These policies are in evidence across the Occupied Territories: in East Jerusalem, in communities such as Khan al Ahmar, across the West Bank, and on the Golan Heights. They constitute institutionalised injustice against the people under occupation. I made a statement specifically on the situation in Khan al Ahmar in May of this year, noting that this vulnerable Bedouin community, who have already been expelled once by Israel from their former homes in the Negev area, are again threatened unjustly with forced removal, and calling on the Israeli authorities to halt the demolitions of Palestinian property and the removal of Palestinian communities.

As I have reported on many occasions, these concerns form a constant element in our dialogue with the Israeli authorities, whether at Ministerial level, or at diplomatic and official level. I stated the Government's views on settlements directly with Israeli authorities during my visits to Israel and Palestine in July 2017 and January and June 2018.

Ireland also pursues this issue in UN fora. At Israel's Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in January, Ireland raised the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, and urged that Israel abide by its international legal obligations, including under the Fourth Geneva Convention, on the treatment of a civilian population under military occupation.

The issue of settlements also forms a major element in the concerns expressed by the European Union about Israeli policies, and Ireland inputs strongly into EU discussions on these matters. I and my EU colleagues have particularly highlighted our concerns about the village of Khan al Ahmar on a number of occasions.

The continuation of the settlement project is a major obstacle to peace negotiations, and undermines the credibility of Israel’s commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Military Aircraft Landings

 128. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if an aircraft (details supplied) was given a permit to land at Shannon Airport; if so, the reason therefor; the investigation that took place to determine whether its flights through Shannon Airport were linked to the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in November 2018 in view of the role of the Israeli military and government against Palestinians, with the support of the United States of America; and the attempts made to inspect the aircraft on either date that it landed at the airport. [50763/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952, made under the Air Navigation and Transport Act 1946, gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland.

The landing permission for this aircraft was granted on 25 October and was subject to the strict conditions that apply to overflights and landings by any and all foreign military aircraft; namely that the aircraft is unarmed, carries no arms, ammunition or explosives, is not engaged in intelligence gathering, and that the flight in question does not form any part of military exercises or operations. These flights, which took place on 31 October and 4 November respectively, were deemed to be in accordance with the stringent conditions that my Department demands.

  Questions Nos. 129 and 130 answered with Question No. 122.

Brexit Issues

 131. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the role his officials have in co-ordinating or partaking in Brexit preparedness, according to the recent request by the EU Commission.  [50473/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Any Brexit scenario will mean considerable change and impact for Ireland and extensive and detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency work is being taken forward, co-ordinated by officials in my Department, working closely with the Department of the Taoiseach, across all Government Departments and Agencies.

As part of this process, a number of cross- Departmental coordination structures are chaired by officials of my Department. These include meetings on a weekly and fortnightly basis, as well as ongoing meetings with individual Departments across the range of sectors.

As part of prudent preparation for Brexit, steps need to be taken at national level, at EU level and by business and citizens who will be affected.

Given that in a number of key areas for Ireland, the appropriate response and mitigation will be at the EU level, we are continuing to engage actively with the Commission on areas of priority for Ireland, including through the preparedness seminars which are currently underway, involving all Member States.

The EU Commission acknowledged the particular impact of Brexit on Ireland and Irish business in its contingency planning communication of 13 November.

Ireland is also working closely with the EU and fellow Member States to discuss and progress areas of key concern, including facilitating the use of the UK as a landbridge post Brexit.

Property Tax Exemptions

 132. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to provide relief for local property tax for older persons in areas in which land prices have increased significantly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50565/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Government agreed with the recommendation of the 2012 inter-Departmental Group chaired by Dr. Don Thornhill which considered the structures and modalities of a property tax that a universal liability to the LPT should apply to all owners of residential property with a limited number of exemptions. Limiting the exemptions available allows the rate to be kept low for those liable persons who do not qualify for an exemption. There is no specific exemption from the requirement to pay LPT for pensioners or older persons under the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended), though such persons may be entitled to an exemption on other grounds or may qualify for a deferral subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.

The Inter-departmental Group considered the provision of deferrals for households unable to pay the tax or where a payment requirement would cause hardship. Part 12 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) accordingly provides for a system of deferral arrangements for owner-occupiers where there is an inability to pay the tax and the person meets certain criteria based on income thresholds. These deferral arrangements also take account of mortgage interest payments made by the property owner.

The property must be the sole or main residence of the liable person and his or her gross income must be below certain thresholds. The thresholds are €15,000 for a single person and €25,000 for a married couple, civil partners or cohabiting couple. Deferral in respect of half of the local property tax payable is possible, where the gross income is above the threshold but less than €25,000 in the case of a single person and €35,000 in the case of a couple.

Where a liable person does not qualify for, or does not wish to avail of, a deferral, phased payment of LPT can be used to assist with budgeting. The Government is aware of the difficulties facing many individuals and families, and for this reason a wide variety of methods for payment of the LPT are available from which liable persons can choose the method most suited to their individual circumstances.

A review of the LPT is currently being finalised that is looking in particular at the impact on LPT liabilities of property price developments. It includes an examination of the outstanding recommendations of the 2015 Thornhill review of the Local Property Tax. The review is informed by the desirability of achieving relative stability, both over the short and longer terms, in LPT payments of liable persons.

Departmental Funding

 133. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of funding and-or grant aid his Department has made to an association (details supplied) from 1 January 2008 to 2017 and to date in 2018; the purpose for which the funding or grant aid was released to the association; if the way in which the funding or grant aid that is used is audited; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [50066/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department has no record of making any funding and or grant aid to the Football Association of Ireland from 1 January 2008 to 2017 and to date in 2018.

Vehicle Registration Data

 134. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of cars registered for vehicle registration tax that are purchased for the purposes of car rental and qualified for the VAT rebate each month in 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50079/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that the number of cars registered for Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) availing of VAT rebate is not directly available from Revenue’s IT systems, as traders are not required to separately identify the type of services and/or goods on which a VAT input credit is claimed in their tax returns.

  Separately, the number of new vehicles registered, upon which a VRT repayment claim was paid in relation to Car Hire, Car Leasing and School of Motoring (as provided for under Finance Act 1992, Section 134 (Permanent Reliefs) and Vehicle Registration and Taxation (No. 2) Regulations, 1992), for each month in 2017 and to the end of September 2018, is provided in the following table. The figures provided are based on the number of claims approved as of the end of September 2018 and as such may be subject to future revisions.

Year, Month No. of Registrations
2017-01 2,620
2017-02 3,847
2017-03 6,324
2017-04 2,333
2017-05 1,837
2017-06 265
2017-07 6,024
2017-08 414
2017-09 406
2017-10 264
2017-11 69
2017-12 3
2018-01 2,570
2018-02 3,706
2018-03 5,773
2018-04 2,179
2018-05 2,031
2018-06 505
2018-07 5,161
2018-08 205

Banking Sector Regulation

 135. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of European Central Bank on-site inspections of financial institutions here in 2015, 2016 and 2017; the number carried out by ECB staff; the number carried out by the Central Bank of Ireland on behalf of the ECB; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50087/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The European Central Bank (ECB) is responsible for all core supervisory responsibilities as defined in the Council Regulation (EU) No. 1024/2013 (SSMR). For Significant Institutions, a Joint Supervisory Team (JST), led by the ECB and consisting of both ECB and Central Bank supervisors directly supervise these firms. On-site inspections are one of the tools used in supervision. Such inspections are carried out in line with the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) supervisory processes, procedures, methodologies and manuals. They are subject to quality assurance by both Central Bank senior management and ECB management. Thus, a consistent approach across the SSM countries is achieved.

  The Central Bank remains responsible for the supervision of activities of institutions defined as Less Significant under the SSM.

  In response to the establishment of the SSM, which assumed supervisory responsibility for Eurozone banks in November 2014, the Central Bank created a three divisional banking supervisory function with responsibility for: Supervision; Inspections; and Analytics.

  The Inspections Division is responsible for conducting in-depth investigations of risks, risk controls and governance frameworks within Credit Institutions. These inspections cover risks such as Credit, Liquidity, Capital, Operational, IT, Business Model, and Internal Governance risks. The inspections are performed by dedicated inspection teams at the premises of the Credit Institution.

  On-site inspections missions under the SSM model commenced in January 2015. The reduction in the number of missions undertaken in Significant Institutions (those banks directly supervised by the ECB) since 2015 is connected with the continued evolution of the approach, and the application of a consistent, targeted engagement level across the SSM. It should be noted that missions vary in terms of the length and depth.

Inspections of Significant Institutions
Year Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) Staff Only CBI & ECB Staff (incl. staff from other National Competent Authorities) Total
2015 20 4 24
2016 10 2 12
2017 6 2 8


  In addition to these onsite inspections, bilateral engagement between the Central Bank of Ireland and peer supervisors is utilised in order to ensure that subject topic expertise is used in the supervision of Irish banks. One such instance was an onsite engagement in 2017 with a Significant Institution, jointly undertaken by the Central Bank of Ireland and De Nederlandsche Bank.

  On-site inspections are also carried out in Less Significant Institutions.

  The figures in the table relate only to prudential matters, and do not include on-site engagement carried out as part of the Central Bank of Ireland’s consumer protection and anti-money laundering mandates.

Departmental Contracts Data

 136. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the external consultant reports commissioned by his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018; the cost of same; the company involved; and the title and the publication date by report in tabular form. [50096/18]

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In response to the Deputy's question, I have included the requested information in relation to external consultant reports commissioned by my Department since 2011 in the following table.

Commission date External Consultant Report Name Cost Published/Expected Publication date
2018 Benchmarking of Ireland's Payments Industry Indecon International Economic Consultants €78,773 (ex. VAT) Expect to be Published - January 2019
2018 SME Lending Survey April 2018 - September 2018 Fitzpatrick Associates Economic Consultants €73,738.50 Expect to be Published - January 2019**
2018 A Review of Government Bank Remuneration Policy. Korn Ferry €142,000 Expect to be Published - Q1 2019
2018 Review of Regulation of Personal Contract Plans Michael Tutty €3,770 1 Nov 2018
2018 Independent Review of the workload and operations of the Tax Appeals Commission Niamh O'Donoghue €4,524 09 October 2018
2018 The independent evaluation of the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) and Start-Up Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) Indecon €75,897 (ex VAT) 10 Sept 2018
2018 Indecon Ex Post Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Help to Buy Incentive Indecon €76,030 (ex VAT) 10 Sept 2018
2018 Report on the Taxation of Vacant Residential Property Indecon €125,604 (ex VAT) September 2018
2018 SME Lending Survey October 2017 - March 2018 Fitzpatrick Associates Economic Consultants €73,738.50 Published August 2018**
2018 Evaluation of the Department of Finance's Macroeconomic & Fiscal Forecasts 2013 - 2016 Jim Power Economics Limited €17,220 25 May 2018
2018 SME Lending Survey April 2017 - September 2017 Fitzpatrick Associates Economic Consultants €73,738.50 Published March 2017**
2017 Independent Impact Assessment of the Help-to-Buy Incentive Indecon Economic Consultants €54,570 (ex VAT) 10 October 2017
2017 Review of the Corporation Tax Code Seamus Coffey €30,000 September 2017
2017 SME Lending Survey October 2016 - March 2017 Behaviour & Attitudes €64,575.00 Published - June 2017**
2016 SME Lending Survey April 2016 - September 2016 Behaviour & Attitudes €64,575.00 Published - December 2016**
2016 Structure of the Banking Sector in Ireland in a Post-Crisis Era Seamus Coffey €543.28 Not published. Policy research paper.
2016 Review of Corporate Tax Code Seamus Coffey Review ongoing Review Ongoing
2016 SME Lending Survey October 2015 - March 2016 Red C €58,979.00 Published - June 2016**
2015 SME Lending Survey November 2014 - April 2015 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €58,978.50 Published - April 2015**
2015 Review of Local Property Tax Dr. Don Thornhill Nil Published - October 2015
2015 Tax breaks and the residential property market ESRI €30,677.43 Published - October 2015
2015 Spillover analysis of the effects of the Irish tax system on the economies of developing countries IBFD €94,678.00 Published - October 2015
2015 Review of marine taxation Indecon €106,887.00 Published - October 2015
2015 SME Lending Survey May 2015 - October 2015 Red C €58,979.00 Published - September 2015**
2015 Assessment of special regeneration areas for the Living City Initiative John Martin €2,500.00 Not published. Used as input to the decisions made on the special regeneration areas. The details of these areas were published when the Living City Initiative was launched.
2015 The provision of a review of the current Health and Safety Arrangements within the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The final objectives areto update the Health and Safety Management Systems within both Departments in order to build on existing Health and Safety culture and practices within both Departments. Antaris Consulting €16,113.00 Not published. Internal Health & Safety report only. While the Department of Finance is the client the service is being provided to both the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
2015 SME Lending Survey November 2014 - April 2015 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €58,978.50 Published - April 2015**
2014 Cost benefit analysis of Irish Agri-taxation measures and international benchmark against other Agri-taxation incentives Indecon €103,689 Published - October 2014
2014 Effective rates of corporation tax in Ireland Seamus Coffey €4,900.00 Published - April 2014
2014 Importance of tax policy in the location choices of multi-nationals ESRI €30,750.00 Published - October 2014
2014 Research Programme on funding for Small, Medium Enterprises ESRI €122,833.96 Published - October 2014
2014 The historical development and international context of the Irish corporate tax system Ernst & Young €6,150.00 Published - October 2014
2014 SME Lending Survey April-October 2014 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €58,978.50 Published - November 2014**
2014 SME Lending Survey October-March 2014 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €58,978.50 Published - June 2014**
2014 Review of existing facilities management processes MKF Property Services €28,720.50 Published - June 2014
2014 Reviews into Mortgage Servicing? Citibank Europe plc ?€0.00 Cancelled
2013 Assistance and Analysis in the Preparation of the Medium-Term Economic Strategy 2014-2020 PMCA Economic Consulting €49,043.00 Not published. It was commissioned to provide evidence-based economic analysis as an input to the MTES. This analysis is reflected in the text of the MTES.
2013 Spatial Development Patterns - Implications for the Medium Term Economic Strategy (MTES) ESRI ?€4,624 Not published. Used as input to MTES and analysis is reflected there
2013 Modelling Support - Medium Term Economic Strategy ESRI €35,362.50 Not published. Used as input to MTES and analysis is reflected there.
2013 Report to Department in respect of a survey of R&D Active Companies 2013 Crowe Horwath €36,850.80 Published
2013 Ex ante cost benefit analysis of proposed Living City Initiative Indecon €28,290.00 Published
2013 SME Lending Survey October-March 2013 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €59,593.50 Published**
2013 SME Lending Survey April-September 2013 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €58,978.50 Published**
2013 Remuneration Review of Covered Institutions Mercer (Ireland) Limited €146,370.00 Published
2012 External Review of the Compilation of General Government Debt Statistics Delotte & Touche € 61,553.00 Published
2012 (a) Survey of audio-visual producers (b) Review on international review of audio-visual state supports BDO and Amárach €64,575.00 Published
2012 Assessment of Credit Review Office Grant Thornton €31,807.80 Published
2012 SME Lending Survey October-March 2012 Mazars €60,885.00 Published**
2012 SME Lending Survey April-September 2012 Red C Research & Marketing Limited €61,438.50 Published**
2011 SME Lending Survey April-September 2011 Mazars €52,453.50 Published**
2011 Acquisition by AIB of EBS Building Society Charles River Associates €50,000.00 Published
2011 Mortgage arrears report commissioned to feed into Government strategy ARAM International Partners €100,000 Not published. It informed the deliberations of the Keane Group and fed into the Keane Report on Mortgage Arrears.
  **Reimbursed by AIB & Bank of Ireland

  The Deputy may wish to note that the list does not include research outputs under the joint Macro-economy and Taxation research programme between the Department of Finance and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

VAT Yield

 137. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  the amount of VAT collected from forms of gambling that are subject to VAT in 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50138/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that traders are not required to separately identify the yield generated from a particular activity or product type on their VAT return. Therefore, it is not possible to provide an estimate of the VAT collected from forms of gambling subject to VAT.

Central Bank of Ireland

 138. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the location of Ireland’s gold reserves; his plans to move these reserves onto the island of Ireland in the event of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50147/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Ireland’s gold reserves are held at the Bank of England. In accordance with Article 127(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 3.1 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and of the European Central Bank (ECB), it is an ESCB task to hold and manage the official foreign reserves of the EU Member States (which includes gold). The Central Bank of Ireland is a member of the ESCB and so it is for the Central Bank to determine how Ireland’s gold reserves are managed. The Central Bank’s portfolio is managed in line with approved parameters, which are kept under regular review. The Central Bank reports on key activities and developments in its Annual Report. The Annual Reports are available here: https://www.centralbank.ie/publication/corporate-reports/annual-reports

Insurance Industry

 139. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if there are rules in place obliging life insurance providers to retain policy records for a certain number of years after the final transaction on the insurance account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50161/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. I have no role in day to day supervision of the insurance industry, as this is the responsibility of the Central Bank of Ireland. In that regard, the Central Bank of Ireland has two specific mandates as regards insurance supervision. Firstly, it is responsible for the prudential supervision of insurance companies it has authorised by seeking to ensure that such firms remain solvent. Secondly, the Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for the supervision of conduct of business by insurance companies operating in Ireland, also referred to as consumer protection. All regulated entities must comply with the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 (“the Code”).

I am informed by the Central Bank of Ireland that Chapter 11 of the Code contains a number of record keeping requirements for regulated entities which includes insurance undertakings and insurance intermediaries. It states that in particular, Provision 11.6 of this chapter requires regulated entities to retain records of individual transactions for six years after the date on which the particular transaction is discontinued or completed, and that a regulated entity must retain all other records for six years from the date on which the regulated entity ceased to provide any product or service to the consumer concerned.


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