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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 277-297
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Review
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Review
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Expenses
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Expenses
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Expenses
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Remuneration
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Social Impact Bonds
 Header Item Employment Rights Issues
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Judicial Pay
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Increment Payments
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Remuneration
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Tribunals of Inquiry Reports
 Header Item Work Permit Applications
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Job Creation Issues
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Redundancy Payments
 Header Item Job Initiatives

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 277-297

Public Sector Reform Review

 277. 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 comprehensive list of the shared services initiatives delivered by his Department since it was set up and the corresponding monetary savings to the Exchequer associated with each of the initiatives listed for 2012 and projected saving for 2013. [56481/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The shared services programme is making good progress on actions and timelines committed to in the Public Service Reform Plan, and key developments include the following:

- A Shared Services Transformation Unit has been established within my Department.

- A financial appraisal of the Human Resource function across the Civil Service undertaken earlier this year indicates that implementing a shared service for transactional HR activities in the Civil Service will save around 26% in annual HR FTE costs and reduce the headcount in HR by around 17%, a saving of €12.5m per annum. We expect the Civil Service HR and Pension Administration Shared Service Centre will be fully established in 2014 and the forecasted savings will be €12.5m per annum.

- Preparation for the implementation of this Civil Service Human Resources and Pension Administration Shared Services Centre is well underway. The project team are preparing for the transition of the first tranche of departments in Spring, 2013. The location of the new HR and Pension Administration Shared Service Centre is Clonskeagh; the Head of HR and Pension Administration Shared Service Centre has been recruited; and the selection of staff for the initial service is advanced with staff being released on a phased basis from Departments and Agencies.

- Payroll services administered by the Civil Service have been baselined and a business case to drive greater efficiencies and improved payroll services through Payroll Shared Services is well advanced.

- A project to gather data to baseline current Civil Service Finance Management and Banking activities has commenced.

- A high level review of procurement has been conducted and the appointment of a Chief Procurement Officer has been completed.

- The Shared Services Transformation Unit in my Department is working with nominated senior officials to ensure that ambitious and robust plans are developed and implemented in the other key sectors of Health, Education, Justice, Defence and Local Government.

  As each specific shared service project is progressed and approved, specific costings and benefits will be monitored against the benefits forecasted in each business case. As services migrate to a shared services entity, the administrative costs and posts attached to the delivery of those activities in the organisation will be reduced in level accordingly. Detailed arrangements for the transition of budgets and resources will be developed during the design and implementation phases of individual projects.

  Overall, I am satisfied with the progress being made. A robust transformation plan is being implemented for the Civil Service and the Shared Services Transformation Unit is working with nominated senior officials to ensure that similar plans and approaches are being taken in other key sectors.

  We are building the appropriate expertise, engaging with each key Department in a structured way and ensuring that decisions will be based on strong evidentiary platforms derived from baselines and business cases. International experience shows that this is the best way to realise maximum benefits from shared services over time. Therefore it is not possible at this stage to provide information on actual savings made at this time.

Public Sector Reform Review

 278. 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 following his announcement in September 2012 of his intention to set up a new national procurement office within his Department, the date by which this new office will be fully operational; the targeted savings for 2013 arising from the new office noting that a recent report of the central procurement function estimated that implementation of its recommendations over a three year period could yield potential annual savings in the range of €249 million to €637 million depending on the approach taken; if this new office will have responsibility for procurement across the public service or will it be limited to the Civil Service.  [56482/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Government’s Public Service Reform Plan sets out a comprehensive and ambitious programme of reform for the Public Service, including a range of commitments to deliver greater value for money in public procurement, which is one of the Major Projects of key strategic importance.

  Earlier this year, as part of our drive for greater value for money and increased efficiency, my Department commissioned a capacity and capability review of the central procurement function to identify the actions required to realise substantial savings in public procurement in the short and medium term.

  Approximately €9 billion is spent by public bodies annually on the public procurement of supplies and services, and the review estimated that €7 billion of this is "addressable spend". As the Deputy is aware, the review also estimated that implementation of its recommendations, over a three-year period, could yield potential annual savings in the range of €249 million to €637 million, depending on the approach taken.

  One of the key outcomes of the review, which was published in September, was a decision by the Government to establish a National Procurement Office under the aegis of my Department, and that this Office should be headed by a Chief Procurement Officer. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that, following an open recruitment competition, Mr. Paul Quinn has been appointed as Chief Procurement Officer to lead the establishment of the National Procurement Office and the new approach to public procurement. Mr. Quinn will commence his work at end January 2013.

Our new approach to public procurement will also involve:

-integrating procurement policy, strategy and operations in one office;

-strengthening spend analytics and data management;

-much greater aggregation of purchasing across public bodies to achieve better value for money;

-examining the specifications set out for goods and services;

-evaluating demand levels to assess how demand can be reduced; and

-strengthening vendor and category management.

  I want to emphasise the fact that the National Procurement Office will play a lead role in procurement policy, strategy and operations right across the Public Service. Public procurement is a very significant portion of overall spending and it is essential that the Public Service as a whole is achieving maximum value for money and operational efficiency in this regard.

  The Office is being established on an administrative basis on 1 January, 2013 and a detailed Implementation Plan, which will include savings targets informed by the external review, will be submitted to Government by the end of Quarter 1, 2013.

Oireachtas Members' Expenses

 279. 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 following his Budget 2013 announcements if he will confirm if both the travel and accommodation allowance and the public representation allowance will now be fully vouched; and the date on which this change will come into effect. [56483/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I announced the following changes to the Oireachtas expenses allowances regime in Budget 2013;

(i) to reduce the rates of the Travel and Accommodation (TAA) element of the allowance by 25% for Dublin (less than 25km) and by 10% for the other bands (1 – 12),

(ii) to eliminate the unvouched element of the Public Representational Allowance (PRA), subject to permitting monthly expenditure in the nature of "petty cash" for incidental expenses per month of €100 for each Deputy and €75 for each Senator and subject to limits in (iii) below, and

(iii) to reduce the vouched expenditure limits under the PRA to €20,350 for Deputies, €16,000 for Minister and Minister of State, and €12,225 for Senators;

  It is also intended to reduce the monthly pre-paid envelope allowance for Deputies and Senators by 50%, to 625 for Deputies and 375 for Senators, and to eliminate the unvouched options of the secretarial support allowances.

  It is anticipated to introduce these changes with effect from 1 January 2013.

  The PRA will be fully vouched except for a small element for incidental expenses. The payment of the TAA will continue to be verified in accordance with the system of recorded attendance set out in Statutory Instrument 84 of 2010.

Oireachtas Members' Expenses

 280. 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 following his Budget 2013 announcements, if the reduction of 10% and more to the expenditure limits that comprise the parliamentary standard allowance will be applied to both the travel and accommodation allowance and the public representation allowance; if he will confirm the reduction he plans to make to both allowances and the date will on which this change will come into effect. [56484/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I announced the following changes to the Oireachtas expenses allowances regime in Budget 2013;

(i) to reduce the rates of the Travel and Accommodation (TAA) element of the allowance by 25% for Dublin (less than 25 km) and by 10% for the other bands (1 – 12),

(ii) to eliminate the unvouched element of the Public Representational Allowance (PRA), subject to permitting monthly expenditure in the nature of "petty cash" for incidental expenses per month of €100 for each Deputy and €75 for each Senator and subject to limits in (iii) below, and

(iii) to reduce the vouched expenditure limits under the PRA to €20,350 for Deputies, €16,000 for Minister and Minister of State, and €12,225 for Senators, or a reduction in each case of nearly 20% of the vouched amounts. It is anticipated that the changes will come into effect from 1 January 2013.

Oireachtas Members' Expenses

 281. 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 following his Budget 2013 announcements, the date from which the 10% reduction to the party leaders allowance will come into effect. [56485/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The 10% reduction will be applied to the rates of the Party Leader’s Allowance in parallel with the other changes announced to the Party Leaders Allowance in my address to Dáil Éireann on the Expenditure Estimates for 2013.

  My Department has already commenced preparations on the changes to primary legislation necessary to effect those changes.

Oireachtas Members' Remuneration

 282. 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 when he intends to introduce the necessary legislation to abolish the severance payment to Ministers and other office holders paid to such persons when they cease to hold office; if he will confirm the number of current recipients of the allowance and provide in tabular form the names of these recipients and the amount each has received since March 2011. [56486/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin My Department has commenced preparations on the changes to primary legislation necessary to effect changes to the Party leaders allowance and to abolish severance payments to Ministers and other Officeholders. This will be published following work by the Parliamentary Draftsman's Office and the Office of the Attorney General and appraisal by Government.

  The current recipients of severance payments are attached as requested. A number of recipients are gifting all their severance payments and these are marked with an asterisk.

Former Ministers/Office holders Severance pay 2011

Forename And Surname Value  
Noel Ahern 5,227.10  
Dermot Ahern 4,746.56  
Barry Andrews 6,943.25  
Áine Brady 4,746.56  
Dara Calleary 33,775.71  
Pat Carey 24,205.93  
Donie Cassidy 24,205.93  
Sean Connick 39,686.61  
Mary Coughlan 24,205.93  
Ciarán Cuffe 54,451.62  
John Curran 25,417.82  
Noel Dempsey 1,040.03  
Jimmy Devins 27,473.22  
Michael Finneran 1,039.91  
Paul Gallagher 24,205.93  
John Gormley 99,442.55  
Mary Hanafin 51,492.69  
Sean Haughey 40,939.40  
Maire Hoctor 24,205.93  
Billy Kelleher TD 1,040.03  
Tony Killeen 24,205.93  
Michael Kitt 37,473.67  
Conor Lenihan 4,181.68  
Brian Lenihan TD 24,205.93  
Martin Mansergh 16,921.61  
Micheál Martin TD 24,205.93 *
John McGuinness 61,318.11  
John Moloney 24,205.93  
Pat Moylan 18,450.63  
Éamon Ó Cuív 46,094.74 *
Willie O'Dea TD 8,063.72  
John O'Donoghue 14,374.32  
Batt O'Keeffe 51,856.59  
Willie Penrose 4,146.35  
Peter Power 24,205.93  
Seán Power 6,272.52  
Dick Roche 46,034.09  
Eamon Ryan 51,492.69  
Trevor Sargent 19,454.03  
Brendan Smith 46,094.74 *
Mary Wallace 8,363.36  
Mary White 25,417.82  
  1,105,533.03  
*Gifting.

Former Ministers/Office holders Severance pay 2012
Forename And Surname
Value
 
Barry Andrews
€27,812.69
 
Áine Brady
€18,289.92
 
Dara Calleary
€19,932.40
 
Pat Carey
€30,431.54
 
Sean Connick
€4,082.15
 
Mary Coughlan
€44,838.39
 
John Curran
€22,622.77
 
Michael Finneran
€17,699.95
 
Paul Gallagher
€81,886.16
 
John Gormley
€26,625.82
 
Sean Haughey
€16,073.46
 
Billy Kelleher TD
€19,932.40
 
Tony Killeen
€25,289.24
 
Conor Lenihan
€19,932.40
 
Martin Mansergh
€19,932.40
 
Michéal Martin TD
€66,230.84
*
John Moloney
€19,932.40
 
Pat Moylan
€21,303.20
 
Batt O'Keeffe
€29,541.72
 
Willie Penrose
€24,093.67
 
Peter Power
€19,932.40
 
Dick Roche
€37,906.88
 
Eamon Ryan
€35,116.92
 
Trevor Sargent
€1,785.96
 
Róisín Shortall TD
€6,522.48
*
Brendan Smith
€30,568.14
*
Éamon Ó Cuív
€30,568.14
*
 
€718,884.45
 
*Gifting.

Ministerial Meetings

 283. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56552/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin While my Department has overall responsibility for Cohesion policy, the issue is handled at the Council of Ministers by the General Affairs Council, which falls within the remit of the Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nevertheless, I attended a meeting of the General Affairs Council devoted to Cohesion policy on 16 December 2011. I also attended informal meetings of Ministers with responsibility for Cohesion policy on 25 November 2011 and 6 November 2012.

Social Impact Bonds

 284. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin when he expects to receive the report from the steering group overseeing the development of social impact bonds and if his intention to publish this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56565/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I am advised that the work of the steering group – which is carrying out an assessment of a number of opportunities identified by the Advisory Group on Social Impact Investing – is progressing.

  The steering group's assessment of the opportunities identified will be brought to me once finalised, with recommendations as to whether or not a project should proceed to a formal pilot phase.

  I expect that the steering group will update me further on its progress during the first quarter of 2013.

Employment Rights Issues

 285. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin following his notification to each Department on 22 December 2011 requesting them to put a mechanism to monitor compliance with employment law, including REA’s to establish the number of public contracts entered into since this notification in view of the fact that only 35 notifications have been provided to date; if he has put in place any mechanism to ensure that this requirement is followed up in practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56670/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The notification referred to by the Deputy relates specifically to public operations that have been outsourced. In this regard, the Public Service Agreement 2010 – 2014 established a mechanism to monitor compliance with employment law, including REAs, in operations which are the subject of outsourcing. My Department notified (Circular 15/2011) each Department on 22 December 2011 of these arrangements.

The Circular requires contracting authorities to notify NERA of contracts awarded where they relate to operations that are the subject of outsourcing, A dedicated email address (notification@employmentrights.ie) has been set up in this regard. I am informed by NERA that a total of 44 notifications have been received by them to date.

In relation to the general issue of employment law and its enforcement, these are matters for my colleague Mr Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) respectively. In this regard I understand that his reply (PQ 43392 - answered 22/11/12) given to a similar question outlines developments in this area.

Public Procurement Contracts Expenditure

 286. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his plans to undertake a review of the Government form of construction contracts; when this review will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56736/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The public works contracts were introduced in February 2007 as part of the Construction Procurement Reform Initiative the objectives of which are to achieve greater cost certainty, better value for money and timely and more efficient delivery of projects.

At the time of their introduction an undertaking was given to review their performance at an appropriate stage. Consideration was given to a review in 2010 but at the time it was agreed that insufficient numbers of contracts had reached final account stage to provide material for a review.

I am satisfied that sufficient projects have now reached agreed final account stage to conduct a review of the performance of the contracts and, as part of an initial engagement, we propose to invite the various industry stakeholders to a meeting early in the New Year to consider the best means to conduct the review.

Judicial Pay

 287. 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 following the resignation of a convicted District Judge (details supplied), a Judge found guilty of attempting to deceive a client, if he will outline the salary that the Judge was in receipt of; the length of time that they were paid as a District Judge and if resignation entitlements such as pension, gratuity, lump sum or any other payment including severance was awarded upon resignation; if the Judge is in receipt of a pension while in custody; if the Judge will receive a pension when released from prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56746/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Under Article 35.5 of the Constitution, a judge’s salary may not be reduced except in the specific circumstances approved in last year’s Referendum on Judges’ Pay. There is, therefore, no legal provision to withhold a judge’s pay while on sick leave. Following the Referendum, I introduced the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Act 2011 which reduced the salary payable to a serving District Court Judge to €136,124 (€123,881 net of the pension related deduction), with effect from 1 January 2012. Prior to 1 January 2012 the applicable salary was €147,961.

A judge’s pension is calculated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in accordance with the relevant legislative provisions and on receipt of an application through the serving Department (in this case the Department of Justice) Pension calculations are determined only when the full details of a person’s age, reckonable service etc are considered. No application has been received to date in my Department.

Pensions in respect of District Judges are based on 1/40th of salary per year of service up to a maximum period of twenty years. A lump sum is calculated at 3/40ths of salary up to a maximum of 1.5 times salary. Under the Pensions Act 1990 (as amended) a person who has served a minimum of two years is entitled to apply for a preserved pension on reaching 65 years or if retiring on established medical grounds, a pro rata pension may be paid after five years.

Public Sector Staff Increment Payments

 288. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the number of public servants who earn the amount in a salary range (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56817/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I refer to my reply to Question Nos. 91, 93 and 94 of 19 September 2012.

Oireachtas Members' Remuneration

 289. 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 in tabular form the saving to the Exchequer if Senators annual basic salary was capped at €60,000, TDs at €75,000, and all Government salaries at €100,000. [56951/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The estimated saving to the Exchequer should a cap of €60,000 be applied to the basic pay of all Senators, a cap of €75,000 applied to all TDs and a cap of €100,000 be applied to the salaries of Government members, and Ministers of State, is set out in the table.

  Application of pay cap Estimated savings
1. Application of pay cap of €75,000 to TDs (other than those at point 3 below) €2,403,392
2. Application of pay cap of €60,000 to Senators €337,260
3. Application of pay cap of €100,000 to the salaries of Government members and Ministers of State €1,570,020
  Total estimated savings €4,310,672
  These estimates do not take account of any offsetting reductions in taxes and levies, which would significantly reduce the effective saving to the Exchequer. I have no proposals to cap pay at the amounts suggested.

Flood Prevention Measures

 290. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if a final decision has been reached in relation to establishing a compensation fund for uninsured businesses affected by the County Cork flooding in June 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56953/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As the Deputy will be aware from the reply given to him by my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government on this matter on 11 December (question no. 292), the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government briefed the Government on matters relating to the Cork flooding of 29 June 2012 and it was decided that the relevant ministers would agree with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on a possible approach that would address the matter of compensation for uninsured businesses arising from that flooding. The matters are under consideration by the relevant Government Departments at present.

Tribunals of Inquiry Reports

 291. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress that has been made in relation to the implementation of recommendations arising from the Moriarty Tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56535/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Moriarty Tribunal made two recommendations for changes to company law, as follows:

· That a provision similar to section 172 of the UK Companies Act, 2006 be adopted, together with the adoption of additional implementation or enforcement measures.

· That consideration be given by the Oireachtas, and/or by the Company Law Review Group, to enacting provisions similar to those contained in Part 14 of the UK Companies Act, 2006, governing the control of political donations and expenditure.

  The Government considered that provisions in the forthcoming Companies Bill, which will consolidate and give a statutory footing to the duties of directors, meet the objectives of the first recommendation above. The first, and main, part of the Companies Bill, including the provisions on directors’ duties, was published in "soft copy" in May 2011.

  With regard to the second recommendation above, provisions restricting corporate donations are contained in the Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Act 2012, which comes within the remit of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Work Permit Applications

 292. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 179 of 8 November 2012, when he expects a work permit to be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56235/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton There is currently no record in my Department of a valid permit application in respect of the proposed employee named above.

  However, application papers in respect of a spousal permit for this employee were returned on 5th December 2012 as they were not accompanied by an up to date P30 from the Revenue Commissioners confirming the employer’s registration as an employer for tax purposes.

  In addition application papers were returned by my Department on 14 December 2012 in respect of a renewal permit for this employee as three recent payslips were not enclosed. It is required that applications in respect of the renewal of an employment permit are accompanied by three recent payslips, dated within the last three months from the date of receipt of the application.

  If an application is submitted to my Department with the required documentation in respect of either of these applications it will be given consideration. An application in respect of either type of permit would need a form P30 dated within the last twelve months.

Ministerial Meetings

 293. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56550/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has the lead responsibility for the Competitiveness Council and for the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (ESPHCA). When the Foreign Affairs Council considers trade matters, such matters also come within the remit of my Department.

  The Competitiveness Council itself is sub-divided into industry, internal market and research issues.

  The following tables list the number of Formal and Informal Competitiveness Council meetings, ESPHCA meetings and Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council meetings and attendees or otherwise for the period 9 March 2011 to date.

Formal and Informal Competitiveness Councils from 9 March 2011 to date
Attendance
9 – 10 March 2011 Deputy Permanent Representative
11-13 April 2011 (Informal) Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
30 May 2011 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
31 May 2011 Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
27 June 2011 (Extraordinary meeting) Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
20-22 July 2011 (Informal) Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
29-30 September 2011 Minister of State with responsibility for Small Business, Mr John Perry, TD and Minister for State with responsibility for Research and Innovation, Mr Sean Sherlock TD
5-6 December 2011 Minister of State with responsibility for Small Business, Mr John Perry, TD
2 February 2012 (Informal) Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
3 February 2012 (Informal) Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
20 February 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
21 February 2012 Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
30 May 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
31 May 2012 Deputy Permanent Representative
19 July 2012 (Informal) Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
10 October 2012 Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD
11 October 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
10 December 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
11 December 2012 Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation Mr Sean Sherlock TD


EPSCO Councils 09 March 2011 to date
Attendance
19 May 2011 (Extraordinary Council) Deputy Permanent Representative
17 June 2011 Minister for Social Protection Ms. Joan Burton TD
7-8 July 2011 (Informal Council) Minister for Social Protection Ms. Joan Burton TD
3 October 2011 Deputy Permanent Representative
1 December 2011 Minister of State with responsibility for Training and Skills Mr. Ciaran Cannon TD
17 February 2012 Minister for Social Protection Ms. Joan Burton TD
24-25 April 2012 (Informal Council) Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
21 June 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD
12-13 July (Informal) 2012 Minister for Social Protection Ms. Joan Burton TD
4 October 2012 Minister for Social Protection Ms. Joan Burton TD
6 December 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation

Mr Richard Bruton TD


Foreign Affairs (Trade) Councils from 9 March 2011 to date
Attendance
13 May 2011 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Mr Richard Bruton TD
26 September 2011 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Mr Richard Bruton TD
14 December 2011 Permanent Representative Geneva
16 March 2012 Permanent Representative
31 May 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Mr Richard Bruton TD
29 November 2012 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Mr Richard Bruton TD

Job Creation Issues

 294. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will detail his Department's direct involvement in the Green Way/An tSlí Glas project; his plans to support the Green Way project in the coming year; and if he will provide an update in the project's success to date in creating a Cleantech cluster in north Dublin and the surrounding region.  [56637/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Green Way is a Cleantech cluster established by industry, academic institutions and public/semi-state players in the Dublin region. Its vision is to create jobs and unlock trade opportunities for companies through the activation and development of an internationally recognised Cleantech cluster.

The partners in the Green Way include Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, the Dublin Airport Authority, North Dublin Chamber and Ballymun Regeneration Ltd.

My Department is supportive of the initiative in the context of its potential to develop employment in the Green Economy. There is also potential for the Cleantech cluster model to be replicated in other areas of the country. Last July, I announced a new €2 million pilot Clustering Programme designed to promote cooperation between businesses and create more jobs across several sectors, including Cleantech. The Programme is a joint agency initiative involving Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Forfás.

My Department is facilitating the development by Dublin City University of a site in Glasnevin into an internationally-recognised "Innovation Campus", involving a partnership of education and research institutions, enterprise and the Semi-State sector, with a particular focus on research-active Cleantech firms. The campus will be an important element within The Green Way and it is envisaged that it will support high value employment in indigenous and multinational companies focussed on eco-innovation.

Enterprise Ireland also supports the Cleantech sector - including the different bodies associated with the Green Way project - in a number of ways, including through participation in public procurement initiatives through its Public Procurement Division.

Departmental Properties

 295. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton to explain the delay in proceeding with the planned transfer of a site from Cork County Council and the Industrial Development Authority (details supplied) in County Cork; when he expects the transfer to take place; the current status of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56643/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I have been informed by IDA Ireland that it is currently in discussions with Cork County Council regarding the transfer of land at Miles and Cloheen, Clonakilty and at Brookpark, Dunmanway. IDA Ireland is working to expedite the completion of the overall transfer with Cork County Council’s legal officers. The Agency is hopeful that the transfer will be completed early in the New Year.

Redundancy Payments

 296. Deputy Dara Murphy Information on Dara Murphy Zoom on Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton in view of the percentage increase in the proportion of redundancy payments that must now be borne by employers, the measures he is taking to prevent employers breaking time or making employees redundant to prevent potential redundancy liability; if there are any additional measures for employers who wish to remain trading but who cannot afford these increased lump sum redundancy payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56735/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton With regard to the Redundancy Payments Acts, responsibility for this legislation and, consequently, the Redundancy Payments Scheme and the payment of rebates to employers is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection.

  The Department of Social Protection advise that under the Redundancy Payments Acts an eligible employee is entitled to two weeks statutory redundancy payment for every year of service, plus a bonus week. Compensation is based on the worker’s length of reckonable service and reckonable weekly remuneration, subject to a ceiling of €600 per week. Employees must have at least two years’ service to be eligible for a redundancy payment. Claims for statutory redundancy can be taken to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

  It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy to all its eligible employees. I understand from the Department of Social Protection that where an employer makes a statutory redundancy payment to an eligible employee made redundant before 1 January 2013, he/she is entitled to a rebate of a portion of that payment from the State. As a result of changes announced as part of Budget 2013, the employer rebate is being abolished for cases where the date of dismissal by reason of redundancy is on or after 1st January 2013. The 15% rebate will continue to be payable in respect of redundancies which occurred on or after 1st January 2012 up to 31st December 2012. Rebates to employers and lump sums paid directly to employees are paid from the Social Insurance Fund.

  As regards an employer’s inability to afford to pay redundancy to his/her employees, where an employer can prove to the satisfaction of the Department of Social Protection that he/she is unable to pay the statutory redundancy to his/her employees the Department of Social Protection will make lump sum payments directly to the employees and will seek to recover the debt from the employer. The recent Budget announcement has no impact on this position. To prove inability to pay the employer must submit documentary evidence to confirm that this is the position. This evidence usually takes the form of a recent statement of affairs and a letter from the company’s accountant/solicitor to confirm that this is the position.

  I understand from the Department of Social Protection that an employer may lay-off staff when he/she is unable to provide work, but she/he believes this to be a temporary situation and gives the employee notification of the lay-off before the work finishes. A lay-off can only occur if it is provided for in the employee’s contract of employment, if it is custom and practice in the workplace or if the employee agrees to the lay-off. However, if an employee has been laid-off for 4 weeks or more, or for 6 of the previous 13 weeks, he/she may give the employer a notice in writing of his/her intention to claim redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2007. Accordingly, an employer cannot compulsorily lay-off an employee for an indefinite period.

  There is case law in relation to lay-off being used inappropriately, forcing employees to waive their rights to notice and request redundancy. For example, the Industrial Yarns -v- Green case [1984] ILRM 15 and the Irish Leathers -v- Minister for Labour case [1986] IR 177 both concerned lay-off being mis-used by employers in order to deny employees their entitlement to pay in lieu of notice which concerned.

  Employment rights legislation also contains a variety of protections in the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 – 2005 to protect the interests of employees who have been dismissed or made redundant or are facing dismissal or redundancy.

  The purpose of the Unfair Dismissals Acts is to protect employees from being unfairly dismissed from their jobs by laying down criteria by which dismissals are judged to be unfair, by providing a system for adjudication of complaints of unfair dismissal and, where an employee has been found to have been unfairly dismissed, redress. The Acts apply to a person who has been in the continuous service of the employer for more than one year. In certain circumstances (e.g. dismissal because of pregnancy or trade union membership), the one year requirement does not apply. Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, an employer must demonstrate that there were substantial grounds justifying a dismissal.

  In general, redundancy is a situation where an employee's job no longer exists and no replacement is necessary. Where an employee has at least one year’s service, the employee may take an Unfair Dismissals case to a Rights Commissioner if the employee was made redundant in circumstances where he/she considers that a redundancy situation did not exist. The relevant complaint form is available from the Workplace Relations Customer Service website at (www.workplacerelations.ie) or, on request, from the Workplace Relations Customer Service on 1890 80 80 90.

  Where a collective redundancy situation exists, an employer is obliged to engage in consultations with employee representatives over a period of at least 30 days before issuing notices of redundancy.

  Also, continuity of service for an employee is, as per the provisions contained in the First Schedule of the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 (as amended), generally only broken by either the dismissal of the employee or the resignation of the employee. For the purposes of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, in cases where an employee is dismissed (other than an employee on a fixed-term contract) and is then re-employed by the same employer not later than 26 weeks after the dismissal, the continuity of service of the employee is not considered to have been broken if the dismissal was wholly or partly for, or was connected with, the purpose of the avoidance of liability under the Unfair Dismissal Acts. In addition, in the case of employees who are employed on a series of short-term (fixed-term) contracts with less than a three-month gap between the contracts, the length of the contracts may be added together for the purposes of calculation of continuity of service under the Unfair Dismissals Acts if, in the opinion of the employment rights adjudication bodies, the entry by the employer into the subsequent contracts was wholly or partly for, or was connected with, the purpose of the avoidance of liability under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

Job Initiatives

 297. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will set up a jobs task force, similar to that in the south east of the country to fill the employment vacuum in counties Longford and Westmeath (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56798/12]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The initiative which was established last year for the South East region followed a very significant and unexpected company closure, involving a major loss of jobs in one company in Waterford City. Accordingly it was considered appropriate to initiate a specific and coordinated response to that exceptional event.

The South East region has the highest unemployment rate of all regions in the State and, measuring economic performance, its Gross Value Added data is well below the national average as are Labour Force participation rates. Also, the proportion of the population with higher level educational attainment in the South East is significantly lower than the National average. In addition, several infrastructural deficits have been identified in that region and business start-ups are small and focussed on the domestic market. Given all these challenges, in addition to the sudden closure of the Talk talk Call Centre, it was considered that an appropriate response to these unique circumstances merited the establishment of a specific Action Plan for the region.

However I consider that it is not practicable or effective to establish jobs task forces around the country as a general mechanism to address high unemployment. While it is accepted that the Longford and Westmeath area is facing a significant level of joblessness, to embark on such a course would involve diverting the various State Agencies from their on-going efforts to create jobs. A considerable administrative commitment is involved in servicing any additional committees and groups which may be set up and, given the constrained staff resources facing all public sector bodies at present, I am strongly of the opinion that establishing such additional groups, except in very exceptional circumstances, would not be in the best interests of using the State’s resources effectively.


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