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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 75-88
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Industrial Development
 Header Item Employment Rights Issues
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Work Permit Applications
 Header Item Child Poverty
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Application Numbers

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 75-88

Schools Building Projects Status

 75. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a new school (details supplied) in County Wexford [56075/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The school, referred to by the Deputy, has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school in question, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie. and this is being updated regularly throughout the year.

In light of the need to prioritise available funding for the provision of additional school accommodation, the delivery of major school projects required to meet future demographic demand will be the main focus for capital investment in the coming years. The 5 Year Construction Plan that I announced on 9 March last outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. It is not possible therefore at this point to indicate when a project for the school in question will be progressed.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 76. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will confirm that all Student Universal Support Ireland applicants will have their payments backdated to the date of application or commencement of their course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56087/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn All maintenance grant approved for this academic year by Student Universal Support Ireland will be paid by electronic funds transfer on a monthly basis directly to students' bank accounts, rather than by cheque to the relevant college. When a students entitlement to a maintenance grant is established for the full academic year 2012/13 and an award has been made, he or she will be paid the appropriate number of instalments, including any instalments due since the commencement of the academic year.

Departmental Contracts

 77. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if the Office of Public Works has a database or list of contractors on a regional basis that can be called upon to assist the office in drain cleaning or flood abatement; and if such exists the way it is maintained. [56024/12]

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 does not maintain a database or list of contractors for the purposes referred to.

The OPW generally carries out its arterial drainage maintenance and flood relief activities through its own labour force and fleet of plant and machinery. In the event that the OPW has a requirement for hired plant, for example where additional or specialist equipment is needed, any such requirement is advertised and filled in accordance with public procurement regulations.

Industrial Development

 78. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will request the Industrial Development Agency to prioritise County Kerry for jobs investment in view of the fact that the county lost Objective 1 status in 1998 and the fact that the three nearest counties have fared exceptionally better with site visits; if he will request the IDA to give the county the jobs boost it so urgently requires; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56060/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton IDA Ireland has assured me that, through its network of overseas offices, it continues to market the linked hub locations of Killarney in South Kerry and Tralee in North Kerry for new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As part of this marketing campaign the Agency markets all available land and buildings in the County. Based on the strengths of the region, IDA Ireland is targeting, in particular, the ICT, International Financial Services and Globally Traded Business sectors. In addition, IDA Ireland is working closely with educational institutions and FÁS to develop the skill sets necessary to attract high value added employment to the county.

As Ireland competes for investments at the highest end of the value chain the concept of scale is crucial. Leading corporations require significant population pools of highly qualified talent, appropriate physical and digital infrastructure and the availability of sophisticated professional and support services. In order to meet this challenge IDA focuses on marketing the Gateway locations within each region. With continuing enhancement and improvements in physical and digital infrastructure, an FDI project secured for one Gateway Economic Region has a positive impact on other Gateway Economic Regions and their surrounding areas. The recent Northern Trust announcement in Limerick, creating some 400 jobs, will have a positive economic impact directly and indirectly on County Kerry.

At the end of 2011 there were 12 IDA Ireland supported companies in Kerry employing approximately 1,300 permanent staff. Whilst IDA Ireland seeks to influence the selection of a location by potential investors, the final decision on where to locate is taken in all cases by the investor.

Employment Rights Issues

 79. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views regarding Ireland's ratification of the domestic workers ILO convention; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56061/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I welcomed the adoption of the Decent Work for Domestic Workers Convention and Recommendation at the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation.

The issue of ratification by Ireland of Convention No. 189 on decent work for domestic workers is being considered in the context of our standard approach to the ratification of international instruments. Ireland does not ratify international Conventions until any such necessary amendments to domestic legislation have been identified and effected.

My officials are finalising work in relation to an assessment of the implications of ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Domestic Workers. The Assessment includes an article-by-article examination of the extent to which domestic legislation provisions already provide for the rights and entitlements enunciated in each article, as well as the extent to which any legislative amendments will be required. This assessment will then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for their examination.

As one of the articles in the ILO Convention relates to an EU competence, Ireland as part of our Presidency will be bringing forward a proposal for a Council decision which confirms that there are no legal impediments at the level of the EU to ratification by Member States of the ILO Convention.

It is important, to note, however, that domestic workers are protected by virtue of the fact that the full suite of employment rights legislation, including that of redress for violations of their employment rights, apply to domestic workers in the same way as they apply to other categories of employees in Ireland. Also it is worth pointing out that NERA has carried out a programme of inspections involving Domestic Workers as well as continuing to respond to any complaints it receives from Domestic Workers.

A voluntary Code of Practice for Persons Employed in Other People’s Homes was developed under the Industrial Relations Act 1990. The Code sets out certain employment rights and practices for persons employed in other people’s homes and encourages good practice and compliance with the law in such employment situations. In any proceedings before a court, or a workplace relations dispute resolution body, a code of practice shall be admissible in evidence and any provision of the code which appears to the court, body or officer concerned to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings shall be taken into account in determining that question.

Departmental Expenditure

 80. 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 grants, loans or other payments to made to Chambers Ireland, Irish Small and Medium Enterprises, the Irish Business and Employers Federation and the Small Firms' Association on an annual basis made by his Department from 2001 to 2006; and if he will list any loan repayment from these bodies to his Department. [56077/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Officials in my Department are currently compiling the information sought by the Deputy. As our current financial system was changed in 2003 it does not hold information prior to 2004, therefore extracting the equivalent accurate data required for 2001-2003 may prove to be very complex and costly.

  Once the available information is collated I will arrange for it to be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Work Permit Applications

 81. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of employers per annum that have been prosecuted for breaches of section 2 of the Employment Permit Act (2003) since its enactment for each year for which data is available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56128/12]

 82. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of employees per annum that have been prosecuted for breaches of section 2 of the Employment Permit Act 2003 since its enactment for each year for which data is available.  [56129/12]

 83. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of inspections of employment premises that have been carried out by the National Employment Rights Authority with the Garda National Immigration Bureau in 2012; and in which sectors of employment have such inspections been carried out. [56130/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 to 83, inclusive, together.

The Employment Permits Acts 2003 to 2006 make it a criminal offence to employ a foreign national without an employment permit, or for a foreign national to work without an employment permit. Section 2(4) of the 2003 Act places an onus on the employer to carry out reasonably thorough checks in order to be satisfied that a prospective employee does not require an employment permit, or that one has been obtained.

Officers of my Department, specifically, inspectors of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), are authorised to exercise powers under the Employment Permit Acts. If in the course of an inspection NERA finds evidence to suggest that an employee does not have a valid Work Permit, both the employer and employee are advised of the need to regularise the position and of the consequences of failing to do so. An employer failing to rectify matters could be prosecuted. NERA commenced taking proceedings under S.2 of the 2003 Act in 2012. To date, 14 prosecutions against employers have been initiated. No prosecutions against employees have been taken by NERA to date. The Garda Síochána are also an enforcement authority under Employment Permits legislation with prosecution powers. Statistics on Garda prosecutions would be within the remit of my colleague Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice and Equality.

NERA seeks to secure compliance with employment law including employment permit law through the provision of education and awareness, inspection of employers’ employment records and enforcement where necessary. While every effort is made to secure compliance, some employers either refuse or fail to rectify the breaches identified and/or pay money due to their employees. These employers are referred for prosecution. NERA inspectors now being authorised officers under the Employment Permits Acts have made compliance checks under this legislation an integral element of all NERA inspections. Joint inspections may also be carried out as part of investigations involving the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection staff and An Garda Síochána.

During the course of 2012 to date, a total number of 4052 inspections have been carried out.

Separate statistics are not maintained in respect of inspections carried out with An Garda Síochána. Joint investigations are carried out with An Garda Síochána, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection. This figure is collected on an annual basis and the latest figures for 2011 show that 118 such investigations took place. Information exchanged between the aforementioned bodies has helped to uncover non-compliance with employment law, secure payment of wages for employees and save the Exchequer money.

Child Poverty

 84. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on whether budget 2013 will result in more children in poverty; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [56025/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton A social impact analysis of the main personal welfare and taxation elements of Budget 2013 is currently being finalised by the Department. This analysis will include the impact on children.

  Question No. 85 withdrawn.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

 86. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if a decision has been made on a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56017/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person concerned was notified on the 29th November 2012 that her appeal had been successful. Payment of the allowance, along with any arrears due, will issue on the 18th December 2012.

  Question No. 87 withdrawn.

Family Income Supplement Application Numbers

 88. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she intends to tackle the backlog of family income supplement applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [56038/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

An in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project has recently been completed for the FIS scheme. This project focused on optimising output, improving customer service and the elimination of backlogs. Part of the project was a detailed examination of workloads and a full assessment of existing capacity within the area and what capacity is needed in order to process the volumes of claims, both new and renewal, being received on a weekly basis

The outcome of this review is a detailed plan outlining the process required to manage both the continuous weekly intake and backlog claims clearance. This plan sees the current weekly intake of new and renewal claims processed by one team as they are received since the start of November, while the backlog is ring-fenced and a focused team assigned to this work with a clear plan for its elimination.

This team which included additional temporary resources is currently working on the backlog claims. In order to reduce the time it will take to eliminate the backlog, some of these claims are being processed outside of Longford Social Welfare Services Office. This team is fully focussed on the elimination of the backlog of claims in the shortest possible timeframe, concentrating in the first instance on those claims which were previously in payment but where payment has expired and continuing on to first-time new claims. Within those categories, those waiting the longest will be processed first.

It is intended that the backlog will be fully eliminated by the end of March 2013. Claims which are approved by the backlog team will be backdated to the date of claim or the date of expiry of the previous claim, as appropriate, and all arrears due will be paid.


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