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 Header Item Public Private Partnerships (Continued)
 Header Item State Bodies Expenditure
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

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Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe On understanding the cliff, before the summer I will publish an analysis of where we are with the stock of capital investment in the country and our view on changes that need to be made in the future. On the quality of existing infrastructure, of course, I understand our needs pertaining to housing and higher education. The Deputy gave some examples of what he believed to be infrastructural opportunities. I point to the example of the progress made in Dublin Port with the development of the Alexandra Basin project, a project that is, incidentally, co-funded by the European Investment Bank. I point to the work that has been under way at Shannon Foynes Port to improve its capacity to handle a larger amount of stock and vessels than it was capable of handling up to this point. I also point to our airports and the success Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports have had in financing upgrades they needed to their own infrastructure and the fact that the Exchequer has been able to contribute to the upgrading of infrastructure there and at many other airports all over the country. There are needs, of which I am aware and which I will recognise, in particular, later in the year. In many cases, however, we have infrastructure that is meeting the economic needs of the country.

State Bodies Expenditure

 9. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the nature, details and value of all accommodation contracts entered into between the OPW and Caranua; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26099/17]

 24. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the agreement between the OPW and Caranua on the renting of office space; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26101/17]

 41. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the agreement between the OPW and Caranua on the charging of rent for the use of office space; the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [26231/17]

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Will the Minister clarify the arrangement between the Office of Public Works and Caranua? What contract, if any, has been entered into? What are its details and value? The Minister is fully aware of the controversy about Caranua taking on a rent obligation that it did not have before. It was set up in January 2013 and did not pay rent until recently. Will the Minister clarify the position?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 24 and 41 together.

The Commissioners of Public Works advise that the agreement in place with Caranua for its current accommodation in Frederick Court, Dublin 1, is an administrative arrangement by way of a simple exchange of letters between them and Caranua. It details a rent contribution of €106,000 per annum, with a commencement date of 1 June 2016.

As the lease on the Frederick Court building expired in 2016, the Commissioners of Public Works is disposing of the property and in discussions with Caranua on its future accommodation needs. It has offered it space in newly leased premises off Talbot Street, Dublin 1. This was another option for Caranua, given that it had carried out its own research to find alternative accommodation. It confirmed its acceptance of this space to the commissioners and the arrangement is, again, by way of an exchange of letters. The due proportion of rent to be paid by Caranua amounts to €188,589.55, plus VAT, per annum. The increased rent arises from the provision of a larger area of accommodation for Caranua.

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Will the Minister clarify why Caranua will have to pay rent on moving into the leased premises associated with the Office of Public Works, OPW? Will he clarify that the OPW is leasing the existing building? What was it paying for it? Caranua was in it for three years and one month without ever paying rent. What has changed that now obliges it to pay rent? Furthermore, is the Talbot Street premises the one identified a number of years ago that had been refurbished in part with funds from the Caranua funds and into which Caranua did not move at the time?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The one question I cannot answer for the Deputy concerns the arrangement involving the OPW for the current building. I do not have the information required but will find it for her.

On the other question the Deputy asked me, the Department of Education and Skills replied to a parliamentary question on 9 May 2017 addressing the responsibilities of Caranua as an independent statutory body and, in particular, the procurement of its accommodation and the meeting of related expenses. The reply made it clear that Caranua was an independent statutory body and, therefore, would be expected to procure its own accommodation and meet related expenses. Section 30 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 provides that all expenses incurred by Caranua under the Act shall, subject to the approval of the board, be charged to an investment account to the benefit of Caranua. That is why it is expected to meet its own accommodation needs and pay the rent therefor.

On the Deputy's question on the role of the OPW, its remit is to provide accommodation for central government bodies. There are several agencies outside that remit that recoup rent to the OPW for space provided for them. In many cases, this relates back to the legislation under which an agency was established in that there was provision made for the agency to fund its own property requirements.

On the question the Deputy asked me about the accommodation on Talbot Street, I will find the information make it available to her.

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I appreciate that the Minister is going to clarify that aspect. The question I am asking which he is ignoring, although perhaps not deliberately, concerns the fact that we really have gone around in circles. Other Members have tabled questions similar to mine such is the concern about Caranua moving into rented premises. The figure we were given was €272,000, to include VAT, year after year. Why is the legislation and the specific section the Minister mentioned now being cited when it was not used since establishment in March 2013? The organisation was never charged rent. What has changed such that it is now being charged rent, particularly when the fund is dwindling? Second, no business case has ever been made, even though the Department of Education and Skills asked for one. Third, the number of applicants dwindled to a couple of hundred in 2016. Why, therefore, does Caranua need bigger accommodation?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am not ignoring the Deputy's question, nor am I attempting to do so. She asked me about the rental agreement between Caranua and the Commissioners of Public Works. I have provided for her all of the information available. On why Caranua is being asked to pay rent, this is a matter between the board of Caranua and the OPW. If the latter is providing accommodation for agencies that are not central government Departments, there is an expectation that rent will be paid. I will determine whether I can, through the OPW, find the answers to the other questions the Deputy put to me. I am sure I will and I will make the information available to her. I have, however, answered the question she put to me.

Flood Relief Schemes

 10. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when flood defence construction works will advance in Baile Mhúirne and Ballymakeera. [26237/17]

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan I have repeatedly raised the concerns of residents in Baile Mhúirne and Baile Mhic Íre about the risk of flooding from the River Sullane. I have raised the matter a number of times in the Dáil Chamber. The residents need to see progress on the scheme. There was an exhibition in 2011 and designs were to be advanced during 2014. The questions about freshwater pearl mussels were addressed last year, yet there does not seem to be a plan in place. What is the up-to-date position? How soon will the much needed scheme advance towards construction and when will residents in Baile Mhúirne and Baile Mhic Íre have peace of mind regarding the risk of flooding?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that the Baile Mhúirne and Ballymakeera scheme is at outline design stage, on which the preferred options for the scheme are being finalised. The River Sullane has a history of containing freshwater pearl mussels which have protected status as an Annex II listed species under the EU habitats directive. An environmental survey was carried out to establish the status of the population and the likely impact of works. Given the impact the proposed works could have on the freshwater pearl mussel population, a solution to avoid damage was illustrated and submitted to the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The submission was approved, allowing the scheme preparations to progress to site investigations where the results will inform the preferred options for the scheme.

To respond to the Deputy's specific question, tenders have been received for a site investigation contractor, with the contract expected to be placed in June 2017, or this month. It is proposed to hold a second public information day, followed by a public exhibition of the preferred scheme this year.


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