Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 216-237
 Header Item Languages Programme
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Educational Disadvantage
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Equality Tribunal Cases
 Header Item School Equipment
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Schools Guidance Counsellors
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Civil Service Code of Conduct
 Header Item Judicial Pay
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Sale of State Assets
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions Legislation
 Header Item Public Services Provision

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 216-237

Languages Programme

 216. Deputy Tom Hayes Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a decision will issue on an appeal in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [54329/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The staffing appeal process at primary level includes the provision whereby schools with high concentration of pupils requiring English as an additional language (EAL) can apply for additional temporary language support posts. These EAL allocations are made on the basis of appeals by schools to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application to the Primary Staffing Appeal Board which met on 14 June 2012. However the school was ineligible to be considered at this meeting on the basis that it did not have the minimum required 20% (previously 25%) of total enrolment comprised of eligible pupils requiring EAL support. The school was notified in this regard by my Department in June, 2012.The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 217. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the progress made within the four designated areas of North-South co-operation of special education needs, educational underachievement, teacher mobility and school, youth and teacher exchanges.  [54373/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department is committed to advancing co-operation and common action in education between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and takes forward this co-operation through the North/South Ministerial Council. Within that framework common policies in four designated areas of co-operation are developed and co-ordinated: special education needs, educational underachievement, teacher mobility, and school, youth, and teacher exchanges. Details of recent progress under each of these headings are set out below.

Special Education NeedsBoth administrations continue to work together to ensure the agreed expansion of the Middletown Centre for Autism, Co. Armagh is delivered as soon as possible. A report on the joint inspection of the Centre by the Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate and the Education and Training Inspectorate found that the quality of the provision which they evaluated was outstanding. It was found that the Centre is meeting very effectively the needs of the young people, their peers, parents and professionals and has demonstrated its capacity for sustained improvement. Both Education Ministers have welcomed the report as a strong endorsement of the valuable work being carried out by the Centre.

Educational UnderachievementThe Educational Underachievement Working Group (EUWG) met on 4 September 2012 to review and advance its work programme. The Working Group reviewed progress on the production of a joint report by the two inspectorates on best practice in literacy and numeracy in post-primary settings and the potential for a similar publication on good practice in supporting those with special educational needs. The EUWG approved a proposal by Children's Books Ireland to encourage young teenagers' involvement in reading. Both Departments supported Maths Week 2012. Discussions between officials of the respective Departments are taking place on the sharing of best practice on attendance and retention.

Teacher MobilityA joint report has been prepared by the two Teaching Councils on the island concerning outstanding issues and obstacles to teacher mobility. Progress on these issues was reported at the North South Teacher Qualifications Working Group on 12 October, 2012. The joint report was considered at the NSMC Education Sector meeting on 17th October and will receive further consideration at the NSMC meeting scheduled for 27 February 2013. There are ongoing discussions between Marino College of Education, Dublin, the University of Ulster (UU) and St Mary's University College, Belfast regarding the proposal to deliver the Scrúdú Cáilíochta sa Ghaeilge (the Irish language qualification) in the north and the North South Teacher Qualifications Working Group has take actions to progress the matter. The jointly funded collaborative programme of work in the Irish-medium sector will be extended for the 2012/13 academic year. Ongoing exchanges are taking place between inspectorates from the two Departments and they continue to share good practice in school evaluation.

School, Youth and Teacher Exchanges The 10th SCoTENs Annual Conference took place in Cavan on 11-12 October 2012 on the theme of 'Creative Teachers for Creative Learners: Implications for Teacher Education'. Keynote speakers included Sir Ken Robinson and Alexandra Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn. A follow-up evaluation event following Professor John Furlong's (Oxford University) evaluation report on the first 8 years of SCoTENS, took place in Maynooth on 20 September 2012. Recommendations outlined in the joint inspectorate evaluation report of the Dissolving Boundaries project continue to be implemented. There is continuing joint support for the Causeway Programme and the North South Education and Training Standards Committee for Youth Work in Ireland. Discussions are taking place between the Department of Education and Department of Education and Skills officials to progress with Part 2 of the study on North South cooperation in the education sector with a progress report being made available to the next NSMC meeting.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 218. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the nature, process and outcomes of North-South bilateral contacts between his Department and the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland.  [54374/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Contacts between my Department and the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland have involved bilateral meetings at Ministerial and official levels, and communications between the Departments concerning areas of common interest in further and higher education. These contacts are ongoing.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 219. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the nature and range of programmes and joint initiatives that have been designated to increase mutual understanding and promote closer co-operation, North and South.  [54375/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department funds a number of projects which have a cross-border dimension and include among their objectives increasing mutual understanding and advancing peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland. Details of these joint programmes are set out in the attached table. In addition to these ongoing programmes, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Education, Northern Ireland are currently undertaking a joint survey to inform cross-border pupil movement and school planning. The survey is designed to establish the current and future schooling capacity and need in border regions, the level of demand from parents and young people for schools across the border and how obstacles may be removed. It is intended that the results of this survey will be made available at the NSMC Education Sector meeting on 27th February 2013.

   Department of Education and Skills North South Co-operation Projects & Programmes  

Name Target Grouping Irish Government

Department/Agency
Northern Ireland Executive Department/Agency
Children’s Book Week – annual event to promote reading among children School, Youth, Teachers and Parents Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
Cinemagic – annual film festival for young people from 4 to 25 years of age School, Youth, Adults & Teachers Dept. Education & Skills - Dept. of Culture, Arts & Leisure NI

- Northern Ireland Screen
Dissolving Boundaries – links schools North and South in partnerships forged through the Internet and school exchanges School, Youth & Teachers Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
European Studies Project – through co-operative projects at post primary level enhances children’s’ awareness of EU social, economic and political issues and structures School, Youth & Teachers Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
Irish Science Olympiad – brings together science students from the 32 counties in friendly competition for selection to an all island team for the International  Science Olympiad School, Youth & Teachers Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
Maths Week Ireland – promotes awareness, appreciation and understanding of mathematics throughout the island of Ireland School, Youth, Teachers and Parents Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
Pushkin Prizes – promotes creativity in adults and children through the medium of the arts and the natural environment School, Youth, Adults & Teachers Dept. Education & Skills Dept. Education Northern Ireland
Centre for Cross Border Studies – researches and develops cross-border in education and other social and economic disciplines. 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills -
Dare to be Digital – a video games development competition for third level students 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills -
George Mitchell Scholarships - provides third level scholarships to enable US university graduates to pursue a year of study at institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills Dept. of Employment & Learning NI
Glór na nGael – non-political, non-sectarian programme that seeks to strengthen and expand people’s ability to use the Irish language 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills -
Standing Conference on Teacher Education North/South (SCoTENS)

3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills - Dept. Education Northern Ireland

- Dept. of Employment & Learning NI
Universities Ireland – promotes co-operation and collaboration between universities North and South and to enhance their reputations in Europe and elsewhere 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills - Dept. of Employment & Learning NI
Washington Ireland Programme – enables promising university students from all traditions on the island of Ireland  to participate in a six-month programme of personal and professional leadership development 3rd Level Dept. Education & Skills Office of First Minister & Deputy First Minister Northern Ireland

Educational Disadvantage

 220. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will ensure that DEIS schools in Tallaght West, Dublin 24, will continue to receive special funding to allow the schools respond effectively to disadvantaged communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54397/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I do not intend to give any specific commitment on future budgetary decisions. This is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme. However, it is my intention to protect front-line provision, including that in DEIS schools, to the greatest extent possible.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 221. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if a third level student grant will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois after Student Universal Support Ireland informed the applicant in August that the college and the course were approved and SUSI have now changed the criteria and removed this from the website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54403/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, her student grant application was unsuccessful and that she appealed the decision to the appeals officer in SUSI, its original decision was upheld and the student was notified on 3rd December 2012. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

The student grant scheme has never extended to postgraduate study outside of the island of Ireland. This is reflected in the relevant governing legislation and the scheme set down by way of statutory instrument. A grant awarding authority does not have the power to amend the scheme. The student may be eligible for tax relief on their tuition fees. Details on this relief are available at www.revenue.ie.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 222. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a grant application will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54419/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that further supporting documentation was received from the student referred to by the Deputy on the 24th November 2012 and that her application will be reviewed shortly. SUSI will contact the student directly in relation to the outcome.

Equality Tribunal Cases

 223. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if his attention has been drawn to a case of discrimination taken by a former employee of a community training centre (details supplied) to the Equality Tribunal over the last two years; if this case was settled by the community training centre before reaching the Equality Tribunal; if so, the source of the funds for the settlement and the measures, if any, he favours in effecting changes to the board of management of the community training centre arising from this case.  [54430/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand from FÁS that a case was settled in advance of an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing and that a payment was made by the employer (Board of the Community Training Centre). The details of the settlement are subject to a confidential legally binding agreement signed by both parties. The funding for the settlement was found from within the existing resources of the Community Training Centre. FÁS is not aware of any case been taken to the Equality Tribunal relating to this matter.

School Equipment

 224. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the buying of supplies by schools; if they have been directed to buy supplies centrally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54435/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government's Public Service Reform Plan recognises the key strategic importance of public procurement and provides for the development of a new policy framework for procurement. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has recently notified Departments and public bodies of the mandatory requirement to use central contracts, put in place by the National Procurement Service (NPS), when procuring a range of commonly acquired goods and services. These national contracts are targeted at securing best value for money and facilitating Departments and agencies to deliver services within their budgetary constraints. Within the Education Sector, the mandatory arrangement relating to stationery currently applies to the Higher Education and VEC Sectors.

The NPS is supporting Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) through its education and guidance strategies and many Irish SMEs have been successful in winning NPS frameworks in areas such as stationery, managed print services and ICT consumables. These SMEs may, in turn, source many of their services and products from local manufacturers and agents.

While I appreciate the Deputy's concerns, given the budgetary pressures under which we all now operate, savings on the procurement of goods and services across the public sector can go someway to ensure that the level of service provided to the community is greater than it might otherwise be.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

 225. Deputy Olivia Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in a case in which Student Universal Support Ireland accepts that a grant was incorrectly refused, the reason it is necessary for an applicant to go through a lengthy appeals process particularly in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 18; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54494/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, his student grant application was unsuccessful and that he appealed the decision to the appeals officer in SUSI on 30th November 2012. SUSI aims to issue determinations as promptly as possible and within the specified timeframes defined in the Student Support Act, 2011. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grant Appeals Board.

Teacher Training Provision

 226. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will ensure the retention of a home economics teacher education at a campus (details supplied) in County Sligo and provide the college and NUI Galway with an opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to fulfil the vision of the Initial Teacher Education report in the most cost effective manner possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54539/12]

 228. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will reassure staff, students and prospective students of a college (details supplied) in County Sligo of the future of home economics initial teacher education at the college with reference to the recommendation contained in the recent report from the Higher Education Authority to remove this service from the campus in County Sligo; if he appreciates their concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54570/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 228 together.

I have accepted the recommendations set out in a report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the structures of initial teacher education. The purpose of the report was to identify possible new structures to improve initial teacher education in Ireland so that it is comparable with the best in the world. The international panel of education experts recommended that teacher education be provided in six "centres for teacher education". Currently there are 19 state funded providers of ITE (and three non-state funded) offering more than 40 college programmes in primary and post-primary teaching. The new collaborations recommended by the international panel will mean that there will be a smaller number of centres for ITE offering education across multiple sectors from early childhood to primary, to post primary to adult education. These centres for teacher education will also possess a critical mass in terms of research capacity which is not always possible in smaller institutions.

The HEA has been requested to consult with the relevant parties and to prepare a detailed plan on how to implement the recommendations of the Panel. I understand that this process has started and a plan is expected by the end of the year. I will consider the implementation plan from the HEA when received and a further announcement will be made at that stage.

Schools Guidance Counsellors

 227. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he has responded to the postcard campaign of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 against changes to guidance counselling provision in post primary education; and if he will meet the group concerned to discuss these issues in detail. [54564/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department's standard approach for helping to deal with particularly acute incidents in schools such as those highlighted by the school referred to by the Deputy is to provide some short-term support.In this regard I wish to confirm that my Department has approved some short term additional support for the school and the school management has been notified accordingly.

  Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 226.

School Accommodation

 229. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if classroom accommodation will be approved for a school (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54574/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department is currently considering an application for capital funding for an additional Mainstream Classroom from the school referred to by the Deputy. In this regard, my Department has been liaising with the school concerned and it will be in further contact with the school when a decision has been made.

Civil Service Code of Conduct

 230. Deputy Eamonn Maloney Information on Eamonn Maloney Zoom on Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will clarify the status of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour, that is, is it mandatory on all civil servants as it indicates it is; the persons whose duty is it to enforce the code.  [53840/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The provisions of the Code of Standards and Behaviour for Civil Servants apply to all established and unestablished civil servants whether full-time or employed on a temporary or part-time basis and to staff on forms of special leave including career break. The Code of Standards and Behaviour forms part of the terms of employment of all civil servants who are expected to apply it at all times. While breaches of the Code constitute a breach of the terms of employment and may ultimately result in disciplinary action it is a matter for line managers in the first instance to ensure that the provisions of the Code are adhered to.

Judicial Pay

 231. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will outline in tabular form the name and office that a judge retired from, the pension that they are in receipt of, the lump sum that was paid to the judge on their retirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53911/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I attach in tabular format the information in respect of Pensions and lump sums paid to retired Judges between 2008 and to date in 2012. It should be noted that the attached figures are Gross - ie they do not reflect the application of the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) or tax liability. The information for Judges who retired prior to 2008 will take some time to compile and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Former office Name Date retired Annual Pension Lump Sum
District court BROPHY, JOHN PATRICK 14-May-2008
€ 65,214.25
€195,642.75
District court MCGUINNESS, OLIVER 09-Nov-2008
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Circuit Court KENNY, JUDGE HARVEY 28-Jul-2009
€ 88,777.00
€266,331.00
President of HC JOHNSON, RICHARD 27-Oct-2009
€ 137,389.00
€412,168.50
District court MAC GRUAIRC, UINSIN 09-Jan-2010
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Supreme Court GEOGHEGAN, HUGH 16-May-2010
€ 128,936.00
€386,808.00
District court NEILAN, JOHN 10-Jul-2010
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
District court O'SULLIVAN, JUSTICE PHILIP 31-Oct-2010
€ 73,764.79
€221,294.37
District court FITZPATRICK, JUDGE THOMAS 02-Jan-2011
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Circuit Court O'DONNELL, FRANK 07-Mar-2011
€ 86,277.87
€258,833.61
High court O'HIGGINS, KEVIN 23-Mar-2011
€ 121,540.00
€364,620.00
Circuit Court MCMAHON, BRYAN 10-Apr-2011
€ 93,219.51
€279,685.35
District court HARNETT, WILLIAM 30-Apr-2011
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
District court PATTWELL, MICHAEL 01-Jul-2011
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Circuit Court KENNEDY, ANTHONY 01-Oct-2011
€ 88,777.00
€266,331.00
District court O BUACHALLA, DONNCHADH 01-Oct-2011
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Circuit Court BUTTIMER, OLIVE 15-Oct-2011
€ 88,777.00
€266,331.00
High Court BUDD, DECLAN 21-Oct-2011
€ 121,540.00
€364,620.00
District court MANGAN, JOSEPH 22-Oct-2011
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
District court BRADY, PATRICK 26-Oct-2011
€ 56,221.97
€168,665.91
Taxing Master FLYNN, JAMES 22-Dec-2011
€ 61,413.50
€205,457.38
District court MARTIN, MARY H 09-Feb-2012
€ 73,980.50
€221,941.50
Circuit Court SMYTH, ESMOND 15-Feb-2012
€ 124,709.00
€374,127.00
Supreme Court MACKEN, FIDELMA 28-Feb-2012
€ 63,072.67
€189,218.00
Supreme Court FINNEGAN, JOSEPH 29-Feb-2012
€ 104,871.61
€324,795.00
Circuit Court MATHEWS, JOSEPH 01-Mar-2012
€ 85,048.37
€250,082.00
Circuit Court MURPHY, YVONNE 01-Mar-2012
€ 82,562.61
€259,939.00
District court ANDERSON, DAVID 01-Mar-2012
€ 59,356.35
€180,541.00
District court CONNELLAN, MURROUGH 01-Mar-2012
€ 71,031.42
€213,094.26
District court MCDONNELL, JAMES 01-Mar-2012
€ 62,587.50
€210,179.00
High court QUIRKE, JOHN 01-Mar-2012
€ 118,160.58
€357,714.00

Proposed Legislation

 232. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if new proposals being drawn for lobbying legislation and a register of lobbyists will contain information on resources and methods used by lobbying groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54260/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As the Deputy will be aware, the fundamental objective of the commitment contained in the Programme for Government is to introduce a statutory register of lobbying. My Department has engaged in extensive consultation over the past 12 months with stakeholders. I published a policy paper in July setting out my broad policy proposals and am currently preparing the General Scheme of a Bill which I hope to circulate to Government Departments shortly for their observations. While final decisions have not yet been taken on the Bill, it is my intention that the legislation will be balanced ensuring appropriate transparency in relation to lobbying activity while seeking to minimise the administrative burden on registrants. Subject to Government agreement, it is my intention to submit the General Scheme of the Bill to the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee before finalising the text of the Bill.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 233. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the nature and outcomes of North-South co-operation which is facilitated through the Special EU Programmes Body.  [54371/12]

 234. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the nature and outcomes of North-South co-operation which is undertaken through EU co-funded cross border programmes, PEACE III and Interreg IVA.  [54372/12]

 247. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the process, nature and outcomes of North-South co-operation which is facilitated through the Special EU Programmes Body, including the nature, frequency and outcomes of coordination between his Department and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland.  [54377/12]

 248. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the process, nature and outcomes of North-South co-operation which is facilitated through EU co-funded cross border programmes, PEACE III and InterReg IVA, including the nature, frequency and outcomes of coordination between his Department and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland.  [54378/12]

 249. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide an update regarding the management and implementation of the PEACE III and INTERREG IVA programmes and the planning for the new round of funding for the 2014-2020 period.  [54379/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I propose to take Questions Nos. 233, 234 and 247 to 249, inclusive, together.

The Special EU Programmes Body, a North South Body established under the Good Friday Agreement, is responsible for the management and implementation of the PEACE III and Interreg IVA cross-border EU co-funded Programmes. My Department and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland work closely together in their roles as joint sponsor Departments of the Special EU Programmes Body and as the Departments having member state responsibility for the PEACE III and Interreg IVA Programmes, with regular contact, generally on a daily basis.

The PEACE III Programme (2007-2013) is a €333m cross-border programme co-funded by the European Union. Its aim is to promote reconciliation and to help to build a more peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. It funds a wide range of projects from small activities funded under Local Area Peace Plans to the iconic Peace Bridge over the River Foyle.

The Interreg IVA Programme (2007-2013) is a €256m cross-border programme co-funded by the EU Union. The Programme aims to promote economic and social well-being in the eligible region, Northern Ireland, the border counties of Ireland and parts of western Scotland. The Programme encompasses projects in the enterprise, tourism, health, rural development, public sector collaboration, energy, information and communications technology, energy and transport sectors.

The Special EU Programmes Body anticipates that both Programmes will be fully committed by the end of the year. Both Programmes are overseen by Progamme Management Committees, comprised of government departments, local representatives, community and voluntary sector and social partners. The work of the Programme Monitoring Committees includes monitoring and evaluation of the PEACE III and INTERREG IVA Programmes and independent evaluations are commissioned for this purpose, on an ex-ante, mid term and ex-post basis.

My Department and the Department of Finance and Personnel have asked the SEUPB to begin the process of preparing programme proposals for the 2014-2020 round of EU programmes. We have asked the SEUPB to conduct this work on the assumption that there would be a successor programme for both PEACE and Interreg. I would stress that discussions on new EU programmes and funding are ongoing in Brussels in the context of the negotiation of the Multiannual Financial Framework and that final decisions have not yet been made. The Irish Government remains committed to a new PEACE Programme, however.

The programme preparation process has begun with a consultation process, including public consultation events organised by SEUPB across the eligible region. Under the guidance of a programme development steering committee representing government departments, local representatives and social partners, the SEUPB will draft programme proposals and a further consultation period will then commence.

Sale of State Assets

 235. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide a breakdown of where the funds from the sale of Coillte assets will go; the sums that will go to bridge the €135 million deficit in the Coillte employees’ pension fund and the Coillte €170 million debt mentioned in their 2011 annual accounts, the sum that is currently the target price for the Coillte assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54413/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As the Deputy will be aware, we have agreed with the Troika that all of the Government’s proceeds from the State asset disposal programme, including proceeds received from any sale of Coillte assets, apart from its land holdings, will be available, in one shape or another, to support job-creating initiatives in the economy. Half of the proceeds will be available to fund employment enhancing projects of a commercial nature. The other half, while destined eventually to pay-down debt, will, in the first instance, be constituted as a fund to underpin additional lending into Ireland, for example by the EIB, in support of further investment in job-creating initiatives.

An inter-departmental steering group has been established to oversee the ongoing preparations for a sale of Coillte assets and, in examining all the issues that must be addressed to reach a successful conclusion, this group has been asked to pay particular attention to the matters raised in the Deputy’s question. The Deputy will understand that I do not propose to indicate to the market how much I expect to raise from the sale of any of the assets in the disposal programme, including those of Coillte, but I can assure him that the sales will be transacted via an open, transparent and competitive process.

Public Sector Pensions Legislation

 236. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will clarify the situation by which action on reducing or levying substantial State financed pensions is being curtailed on account of past legal interpretation which has placed pensions on a par with property thereby seemingly conferring the same constitutional rights to pensions as exists with property. [54454/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I note that the Deputy initially put this question down to my colleague the Minister for Finance. In making this reply, it is assumed that the Deputy is referring to public service pensions, and in particular to the public service pension reduction, or PSPR, which was introduced by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010.

  The fact is that all occupational pensions are earned and represent a property right, and as such enjoy the constitutional protection afforded to property. This is not a situation created by use of a legal interpretation in the manner implied by the Deputy. Significant action has already been taken by Government in respect of the reduction of public service pensions, and in particular large public service pensions. The public service pension reduction (PSPR) has imposed a reduction averaging 4% on public service pensions awarded or in payment up to end-February 2012; it is currently calculated in line with the following rates and bands:

Annual Public Service Pension (€)
Reduction Rate
First 12,000
0%
Between 12,000 and 24,000
6%
Between 24,000 and 60,000
9%
Between 60,000 and 100,000
12%
Balance above 100,000
20%


  The existing reduction is estimated to save some €100 million in a full year. It applies to pensions paid to some 130,000 public service pensioners paid generally from the public purse. Last year, arising from my concern about large public service pensions, I amended the legislation to increase the reduction on pension amounts over €100,000 by introducing the 20% rate on this band. Public service pensions awarded from March 2012 onwards, while not subject to the PSPR, are also subject to a significant effective reduction, reflecting the full impact of the pay cut of 1 January 2010 and, where arising, other pay cuts. The average such pension reduction is estimated at 7%, but will be considerably more severe in the case of pension awards to ministerial and other higher paid public servants who have taken proportionately larger pay cuts.

Public Services Provision

 237. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide a list of all new services across the public service that have been tested for external service delivery since March 2011. [53764/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Evaluating the opportunity for the external delivery of some non-core public services is an action in the Public Service Reform Plan agreed by Government in November 2011. Last July, the Government agreed a range of actions aimed at achieving a focused and integrated approach to external service delivery of non-core processes with the objective of reducing costs and focusing staff on priority areas. As part of this approach, the Government has decided that all proposed new services across the Public Service will be tested for external service delivery before any approval to provide the service internally will be granted. External service delivery leads have been appointed in every Department and Sector and, while my Department is overseeing the development and implementation of external service delivery policy for the Public Service, the testing and ultimate decision with regard to the outsourcing of any particular new service is a matter for the individual public bodies concerned in each case.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 11:38:59 First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page