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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 210-226
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Heritage Sites Issues
 Header Item Office of Public Works Expenditure
 Header Item Capital Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Office of Public Works Projects
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Tenders
 Header Item Office of Public Works Properties
 Header Item Coastal Protection
 Header Item Sale of State Assets
 Header Item Public Services Provision
 Header Item Office of Public Works Properties
 Header Item Ministerial Remuneration
 Header Item Retail Sector Issues
 Header Item Job Initiatives
 Header Item National Internship Scheme Numbers
 Header Item Work Permit Applications
 Header Item Building Regulations Application

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 210-226

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 210. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a decision will be made on a Student Universal Support Ireland application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; when first payment will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55673/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, a decision has now been made and a letter will issue directly to the student outlining the position.

Heritage Sites Issues

 211. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide a breakdown of the various Office of Public Works tourism and heritage sites in West Cork along with their corresponding footfall figures for the four quarters in 2011 and 2012 separately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55119/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The Office of Public Works manages a number of National Monuments and Historic Properties in Co. Cork. Of these, four are presented to the public with a guide service. Full visitor numbers are available for these sites.

Site Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4 Qtr 5
2011          
Charles Fort 6,042 18,786 34,754 7,660 67,242
Barryscourt Closed 1,878 9,253 95 11,226
Desmond Castle Closed 3,395 6,286 Closed 9,681
Garinish Island Closed 18,565 32,580 1,957 53,102


Site Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4 Qtr 5
2012          
Charles Fort 6,036 18,789 34,571 Not available yet 59,396
Barryscourt Closed 2,511 10,510   13,021
Desmond Castle Closed 3,498 6,120 Closed 9,618
Garinish Island 79 16,534 29,764 1,457 47,834
  (Statistics are taken from weekly returns from sites produced for week Monday to Sunday)

  Doneralie Park attracts a large number of visitors who enjoy the parkland. There is no formal “admission” as such and there are therefore no official visitor numbers available for Doneraile. Over the last three years, however, the number of visitors has increased. This is due mainly to the programme of improvements such as the playground, new carpark, restoration of bridges, and the re-opening of the Tearooms. One of the projects for next year is to have a visitor counter installed which will provide an accurate record of visitors to this site in the future.

  Other National Monument sites in Co. Cork such as Kanturk Castle, Mallow Castle, Buttevant Friary, Drombeg Stone Circle, Labbacallee Wedge Tomb and Glanworth Castle and medieval buildings collectively attract significant numbers of visitors. Sites such as these are open to visitors at all times but formal visitor statistics are not collected.

Office of Public Works Expenditure

 212. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the amount that has been spent to date on the Office of Public Works book One History; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55141/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes From February 2002 to September 2011 an amount of €398,854.52 was expended in respect of the history of the Office of Public Works. This included researching and archiving material on the Office of Public Works and production of a publication.

  In the course of the research, it emerged that a considerable amount of archival work was required, which would normally be carried out by an archivist, but had in the first instance to be carried out by the author as a necessary part of his detailed research.

  €32,947.37 was the total amount spent in 2011 associated with publishing the book; St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 1660-1875.

  No further costs have been incurred since 2011.

Capital Programme Expenditure

 213. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin further to the publication of the White Paper on 30 November 2012, if he will provide an explanation for the variance between forecast voted capital spend in 2012 of €3.411 billion compared with budget of €3.6 billion. [55392/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It is a matter for individual line Departments to monitor and control the roll out of their own capital programmes within the ceilings and sanction arrangements set down by my Department. Queries in relation to underspends within individual Departments should be directed to the relevant Minister and his/her Department.

  The most up to date figures for the forecast outturn of net voted capital estimates in 2012 were published in The Expenditure Report 2013 which is available on my Department's website (www.per.gov.ie). Table 3a shows the forecast outturn for net voted capital estimates in 2012 as €3.5 billion. It also shows a revised 2012 Estimate for net capital expenditure (reduced from €3.6 billion to €3.5 billion) reflecting changes to the capital ceilings following a number of Supplementary Estimates in December.

  The forecast outturn, as published in The Expenditure Report, includes carryover of unspent capital into 2013 of €107 million. As the Deputy will be aware, the capital carryover facility was introduced as part of the rolling multi-annual capital envelope system in order to allow Departments to manage their capital budgets more effectively.

  It is important to note that the forecast outturn figures as published in The Expenditure Report are Departments' best estimate, as of end November, of what their final net capital spend will be at year end. Actual figures for capital expenditure by Departments in 2012 will be available in early 2013.

  Any underspend in the capital budget will be returned, as a saving, to the Exchequer.

Office of Public Works Projects

 214. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the current or planned works being undertaken at Rathfarnham Castle Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55647/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes There are no works currently underway at Rathfarnham Castle. Subject to availability of funding, it is hoped to undertake works to improve visitor accessibility in 2013.

Public Procurement Contracts Tenders

 215. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the percentage of Government contracts in his Department that were awarded to non-Irish companies in the three years 2009 to 2011 inclusive; and the percentage of these that went to EU companies in that period. [55257/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Under EU Directives on public procurement public works, supplies and service contracts above certain thresholds must be advertised on the Official Journal of the EU and awarded on the basis of objective and non-restrictive criteria. As we cannot include nationality as a criterion in deciding on contract award my Department does not therefore hold these records.

The aim of these European rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules. In this regard, it is worth pointing out that the open market regime also offers opportunities for Irish companies to win business abroad and reliable EU studies indicate that many Irish businesses are successful in this regard.

The public procurement market in the EU is estimated to be valued in excess of €2 trillion. The open market regime affords opportunities to Irish companies to win business abroad as part of the EU Single Market.

Office of Public Works Properties

 216. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the position regarding the twelve remaining horticultural staff in permanent employment maintaining the gardens at Mount Congreve Estate, County Waterford; if the Office of Public Works has plans to take part in the management of the estate gardens in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55274/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes In 1979 an agreement was reached between the State and Mr. Ambrose Congreve whereby, in exchange for tax concessions, Mr. Congreve placed his house and world-renowned gardens into a Trust with ownership of both passing to the Minister for Finance on the expiration of the Trust periods, the period for the gardens being 21 years after the passing of the late Mr. Congreve.

The Trust, which is known as the Mount Congreve Garden Trust, currently has three Trustees. The Commissioners of Public Works is one of the Trustees and the other two Trustees were appointed by Mr. Congreve. These latter Trustees are also representatives of Mr. Congreve's Estate which is known as the Congreve Foundation.

The Trust period for the Gardens will continue for a period of 21 years from the death of Mr. Congreve. During that period it will be the Trust, rather than the State, that will manage the Gardens. At present, the horticultural staff are employed by the Congreve Foundation. And not the Mount Congreve Garden Trust.

Discussions are ongoing between the Commissioners and the Congreve Foundation (the representatives of Mr. Congreve's Estate) on a number of matters related to the Trust. It is hoped that a comprehensive agreement will be reached shortly and the future of the horticultural staff will form a critical element of any such agreement.

Coastal Protection

 217. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the amount of funding applied for by Fingal County Council in relation to coastal protection works in its administrative area, broken down by geographical location; and amount sought and awarded per annum since 2000. [55291/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes Responsibility for coastal protection was transferred to the Office of Public Works in 2009. Prior to that date responsibility for coastal protection resided with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and before that again with the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. Information in relation to the funding applications to those Departments is not readily available to the OPW.

  The Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme was commenced by OPW in July, 2009, and provides funding to local authorities to undertake measures, not costing more than €500,000 in any one instance, to alleviate localised flooding and coastal flooding or erosion problems within their administrative areas.

  Details of the applications submitted by Fingal County Council under the Scheme from 2009 to date are outlined in the table below. Having assessed the applications in accordance with the scheme eligibility criteria, the OPW did not approve any of the applications submitted - in some cases because the cost of the proposed works exceeded the Minor Works scheme limits and in other cases because the proposed projects did not meet the Scheme's cost/benefit requirement.

  Year Project Location
Total Funding Sought
  2009 Greenfield Road / Strand Road, Sutton
€2.632m
    Burrow Road Beach, Sutton
€350,000
    Rush to Portrane - Coastal Monitoring Programme
€60,000
    Strand Road, Baldoyle to Portmarnock
€820,000
    Portmarnock Road Roundabout
€500,000
    Golf Links Road, Portmarnock
€500,000
  2010 Portmarnock Road Roundabout
€125,000
    Golf Links Road, Portmarnock
€225,000
  2011 Burrow Road Beach, Sutton
€350,000
    Malahide Town Centre
€450,000
  The OPW introduced revised criteria under the Scheme earlier this year and Fingal County Council was advised to resubmit applications under the new criteria for any projects it wished to progress. No applications have been received to date from the Council.

Sale of State Assets

 218. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his plans for the disposal of non-strategic public utilities; his plans to retain control of critical infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55413/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I would draw the Deputy’s attention to my announcement of February 22 last in which I outlined the shape and scale of the State asset disposal programme that is to be pursued.

  In brief, the programme that the Government has agreed consists of:-

- The sale of Bord Gáis Éireann’s energy business (but not including BGÉ’s gas transmission or distribution systems or the two gas interconnectors, which will remain in State ownership);

- The sale of some of ESB’s non-strategic power generation capacity;- Disposal of the State’s remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus, when market conditions are favourable and at an acceptable price to Government;

- After further consideration, and having ruled out the sale of Coillte’s land holdings, the Government has also determined that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte forests will be proposed for sale.

  In preparing this programme, the Government has been careful to safeguard the position of strategic infrastructure such as the electricity and gas networks, and the House will note that such assets do not form part of the disposal programme.

Public Services Provision

 219. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 237 of 4 December 2012, if he will provide a list of all new services across his Department that have been tested for external service delivery since March 2011. [55436/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In response to the Deputy’s question regarding new services that have been tested for external service delivery since March 2011 there were two areas identified as possibilities.

The Financial Appraisal prepared in respect of the Human Resources Shared Service Centre for the Civil Service examined four options for the implementation of a HR shared service. This included one option to implement a HR shared service centre managed and operated by an external provider.

Additionally whilst one new service has been examined with a view to External Service Delivery in the Office of Public Works, a decision on whether to proceed with this service has yet to be made by Government. At the present time, it is unclear whether a decision will be taken to proceed or not, irrespective of the outsourcing consideration.

Office of Public Works Properties

 220. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will report on plans by the Office of Public Works to restrict access to Chesterfield Avenue, Phoenix Park, at the weekends; if he will take into account health and safety issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55627/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes In furtherance of the Phoenix Park Conservation Management Plan, the Office of Public Works hopes to limit through traffic at weekends and off-peak hours to facilitate recreational use of the Park. Weekend closures of part of Chesterfield Avenue were piloted during 2012 and further weekend closures during the 2013 summer period are planned.

OPW awaits the analysis of a recent traffic survey which it is expected will take into account health and safety issues.

Ministerial Remuneration

 221. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the amount former Minister Roisín Shortall TD was paid in severance when she stood down as Minister. [55629/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Deputy Shortall is due severance payments totalling €6,526.95 for year of assessment 2012. Deputy Shortall has kindly indicated that she is gifting this payment to the Minister for Finance. The Deputy may wish to note that in the context of Budget 2013 I announced that legislation will be brought in to abolish these severance payments in the future.

Retail Sector Issues

 222. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he has any jurisdiction over store opening hours, for example Sundays or on St. Stephen's Day. [55612/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The law on trading hours of shops is the Shops (Hours of Trading) Act 1938. This Act was introduced for the purpose of controlling competition in the retail sector through the making of regulations which controlled the closing time for shops in specific areas and for specific sectors.

A Statutory Instrument was made in 1938 (S.I. No. 188 of 1938) which exempts the whole country from any restrictions on Sunday trading. I have been made aware of some limited opening of shops on public holidays but I have no powers under the Act to close shops completely on specific days. Neither can I regulate trading hours on public holidays such as St. Stephen’s Day under the Act.

There is however protection for employees under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Under this Act, employees have rights in respect of nine public holidays during the year. The options open to employees who have to work on public holidays are an additional day’s pay or a paid day off within a month of the day or an additional day of paid annual leave.

Job Initiatives

 223. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to bring together local and regional employment agencies and the private sector in a formalised structure to target the weaknesses in particular regions on an ongoing basis to help to tackle the unemployment crisis in different regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55059/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government is tackling unemployment generally through the twin strategies of the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work. The aim of the Action Pan for Jobs is to support the creation of 100,000 net new jobs by 2016, while the objective of Pathways to Work is to ensure that as many of those jobs as possible go to those who are currently unemployed. The Government’s approach is a national one across all regions and there are no plans to set up Regional Task Forces.

The Action Plan contains over 270 individual actions to be delivered in 2012, spanning all Government Departments and 36 State agencies. The 270 actions are broken down further into Quarterly deliverables or “measures” which are reported on at the end of each Quarter. Approximately 60% of the measures in the Action Plan for Jobs are for delivery by my Department or its agencies. To the end of the third Quarter this year, around 130 measures had been implemented by my Department and its agencies, giving a delivery rate of approximately 97%.

Some significant objectives have been realised, including the establishment of a Microfinance Fund for small business, the introduction of a Partial Credit Guarantee scheme, new supports for first time exporters, the launch of a new Women-In-Business Programme, the simplification and extension of the Employer’s PRSI Exemption Scheme, the launch of a National Broadband Plan, the piloting of a Health Innovation Hub, and work being undertaken to develop sectors such as Cloud Computing, Digital Games, Manufacturing, and the Green Economy.

So far this year, the IDA has announced investments with the potential to create more than 9,000 further jobs as these projects come on stream. In the first eight months of this year, a total of 7,094 job commitments over the next three years, linked to Enterprise Ireland approvals to client companies, were secured.

Ensuring that more micro and small businesses can start up, expand and export is a key pillar of the Government’s plans for jobs and growth. On 21 November, I announced that primary legislation will be drafted to dissolve the existing County and City Enterprise Boards and create an enhanced national micro enterprise support model, delivered through Local Enterprise Offices to be established in each Local Authority office.

The labour market activation measures outlined in Pathways to Work include over 85,000 job placements and work experience places to be delivered this year by the Department of Social Protection, and over 450,000 training and education places to be delivered by the Department of Education and Skills. The Pathways to Work initiative has an objective of ensuring that at least 75,000 of those currently long-term unemployed will move into employment by 2015. It also aims to reduce the average time spent on the Live Register from 21 months, to less than 12 months by the end of 2015.

We will continue to do all we can to facilitate the return to work of those who have lost their jobs. I am currently preparing the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs on behalf of the Government, and in that context, will be exploring further measures which can be taken to transform our economy and support job creation.

National Internship Scheme Numbers

 224. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of Industrial Development Agency and Enterprise Ireland client businesses that use the JobBridge scheme; and the numbers employed under this scheme by client companies.  [55128/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The JobBridge Scheme is administered by the Department of Social Protection.

  Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have no role or function in the administration of the Scheme and are therefore, not aware if any of their respective client companies are participants in the Scheme.

  All queries regarding JobBridge should be addressed to the Department of Social Protection. In this regard, and for the assistance of the Deputy, information on the take-up of the Scheme can be found at the following link:

http://www.jobbridge.ie/toolkit/JobBridgeData.pdf

Work Permit Applications

 225. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the Employment Permit Act. [55180/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The High Court Judgement of 31st August raised serious issues in relation to employees who have unwittingly entered into illegal contracts of employment by virtue of not having an employment permit.

When I received the judgement, I quickly stated my aim was to ensure that an employer should not benefit from using an illegal contract of employment where he or she was a willing party to its creation. I repeated this assurance personally to the person concerned when I met him and a delegation from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and SIPTU.

The Deputy will note that the Government did not oppose Senator Quinn’s Private Member’s Bill as it concurs with our objectives - to ensure that outcome of the High Court case will not arise again.

The issue raised by the High Court judgement is one which has important policy and legal implications in the area of Employment Permits and also in terms of Employment Rights. The question that arises for policy makers is to what extent such workers should be dissuaded from working illegally in Ireland by virtue of there being a statutory offence to do so, versus, to what extent should certain employment rights protect vulnerable migrants who find themselves unwittingly in such employment positions. My Department has received preliminary legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General counselling that the judgement raises matters that are particularly complex. These matters are currently receiving priority attention with a view to identifying the best way in which the legislation may be amended.

It is my firm intention to amend the Employment Permits legislation in a precise manner so as to ensure that an employer may not benefit from the illegality of the contract of employment where they are found culpable in not ensuring a valid employment permit was in place for the employee concerned. To this end, I hope to be in a position to propose the necessary provisions in a new Employment Permits Bill, currently being drafted and which is anticipated to be introduced in the first quarter of next year. I believe that this would be the most appropriate method of dealing with such a technically specific matter. Decisions on the legal options will be made in light of further legal advice and in consultation with other Government departments. I can assure the Deputy that my Bill is a Government priority and I would expect a speedy passage through the Oireachtas after its introduction.

Finally, I wish to stress that the judgement relates only to the consideration of the enforceability, or otherwise, of an employee’s rights. It does not mean that unscrupulous employers can employ unauthorised third country nationals without running the risk of significant legal consequences. I would emphasise that an employer who engages in this type of activity is open to prosecution under the Employment Permits legislation and could be found guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €250,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both. Both An Garda Síochána and the National Employment Rights Authority actively pursue breaches under the legislation and welcome information concerning possible breaches.

Building Regulations Application

 226. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 345 of 27 November 2012, the reason he believes that the National Standards Authority of Ireland has no role in the ongoing monitoring of the unit (details supplied); and the remedy available to those who purchased and installed the units. [55292/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government use NSAI Agrément as a mechanism to show compliance with the Building Regulations.

NSAI Agrément Certification is designed specifically for new building materials, products and processes that do not yet have a long history of use and for which published national standards do not yet exist. The Certification confirms that new building products, materials, techniques and equipment are safe and fit for purpose at the time of installation.

The NSAI have advised that Condition 5.1(c) of the Certificate relates to the assessment of the manufacturing processes and marking of the product in general. The manufacturing process is under continual assessment, as long as the Certificate and certification agreement remains in place; this ensures consistency of production with the conditions of the Certificate issued. The Clause does not infer that a specific unit “continues to be assessed” for its lifetime.

Part 4 Section 4.4 is a general statement about the expected lifespan of a product. It is not an absolute guarantee that all units will last 30 years; it is merely an opinion that if installed, maintained and operated correctly then the expected lifespan should be in the order of 30 years. This does not rule out the possibility that some units may malfunction in a lesser amount of time. Part 4 Section 4.4 must be read in conjunction with the remainder of the Certificate, in particular, Conditions 5.1 to 5.7.

I understand that the ongoing monitoring of the installed unit’s performance is the responsibility of the homeowner who is obliged to register the unit with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. NSAI’s monitoring of the manufacturing processes ceases with the termination/withdrawal of the Certificate.

In terms of a remedy available to those who purchased and installed the units, it is not clear if the remedies available under Consumer Protection legislation apply to the particular circumstances referred to by the Deputy. The protections outlined below, only apply to persons when acting as consumers i.e. acting for purposes unrelated to the person’s trade, business or profession.

Consumers who believe that goods which they purchased may not have been of merchantable quality or that suppliers who provided them with services did not have the necessary skills or did not provide such services with due skill, care and attention, as required by the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, may wish to consult their legal advisors in relation to enforcing their rights under that Act.

Consumers also enjoy protections under the Consumer Protection Act 2007 which prohibits traders from engaging in unfair commercial practices where such practices would be likely to cause an appreciable impairment of the average consumer's ability to make an informed choice in relation to products offered for sale and which would also cause the average consumer to make a transactional decision that the average consumer would not otherwise make. The Act also prohibits traders from engaging in misleading commercial practices and/or prescribed prohibited practices as defined by the legislation. Consumers who believe that traders may be engaging in unfair, misleading or prohibited commercial practices may wish to bring evidence of such practices to the attention of the National Consumer Agency so that it may be investigated.


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