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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 559-580
 Header Item Electronic Tagging
 Header Item Work Permits Applications
 Header Item IDA Ireland Site Visits
 Header Item Research and Development Funding
 Header Item Trade Agreements
 Header Item Programme for Government Implementation
 Header Item International Students
 Header Item Commencement of Legislation
 Header Item Work Permits Eligibility
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item International Bodies Membership
 Header Item Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Economic Data
 Header Item Science Foundation Ireland Staff
 Header Item EU Data
 Header Item Health Care Policy
 Header Item Disability Allowance Data
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Abortion Services Provision

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 559-580

Electronic Tagging

 559. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the estimated full-year cost of electronic tagging and monitoring thereafter of those convicted of rape, child sexual abuse and similar violent offences that are resident here. [25709/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Electronic tagging is a complex area and there is a significant body of work being undertaken to evaluate the type of technology and resources required in order to implement and sustain a viable electronic monitoring system in Ireland.

Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, a convicted sex offender can have certain conditions put in place as part of their post-release supervision. The General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill, which was approved by the Government last week, provides for the use of electronic monitoring to ensure that conditions are not breached. The Bill will now been sent to the OPC for drafting and is being referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality for pre-legislative scrutiny.

Upon enactment, effect will be given to those electronic monitoring provisions through a procurement process, and it is not possible at this remove to estimate the costs. I should mention for completeness that options for the procurement of an electronic monitoring service for persons on bail are currently under examination.

Work Permits Applications

 560. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of a work permit application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24515/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Employment Permits Sections of my Department inform me that an application for a General Employment Permit for the person concerned was received on 14th April 2018.

A decision was made to refuse the granting of the application on 11th June, 2018, and the applicant has been notified of this decision in writing and of their right to request a review of this decision in line with the provisions of the Employment Permits Acts within 28 days.

This application was refused on the basis that some essential documentation required for the application process was not provided by the applicant and the level of remuneration on offer is less than the minimum amount specified in the Employment Permits Regulations 2017.

A refusal to grant an employment permit does not preclude an applicant from submitting another application for an employment permit. Such an application should comply with all of the legislative requirements pertaining to the particular employment permit type.

IDA Ireland Site Visits

 561. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of site visits conducted by the IDA in each of the years 2016 and 2017 and to date in 2018, by county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24256/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys IDA Ireland continues to highlight the benefits of expanding or locating in all counties of Ireland to its client base. It is important to remember, however, that the final decision as to where to invest always rests with the company concerned. It is also the case that site visit activity does not necessarily reflect investment potential, as at least 70% of all new foreign direct investment comes from existing IDA Ireland client companies.

  The following table sets out details on the number of site visits by IDA clients to each county from 2016 until Q1 2018.

County 2016 2017 Q1 2018
Dublin 284 327 69
Kildare 8 10 4
Meath 8 3 1
Wicklow 5 2 0
Laois 6 4 4
Longford 6 7 0
Offaly 4 5 0
Westmeath 36 42 3
Clare 18 22 4
Limerick 49 42 8
Tipperary 8 8 1
Cavan 2 2 0
Louth 24 22 6
Monaghan 2 1 0
Donegal 7 2 0
Leitrim 8 5 2
Sligo 20 18 5
Carlow 9 8 1
Kilkenny 10 6 0
Waterford 17 11 5
Wexford 7 3 0
Cork 49 51 10
Kerry 3 9 0
Galway 42 62 10
Mayo 5 7 2
Roscommon 1 3 0
Total 638 682 135
  

Research and Development Funding

 562. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the amount of current and capital expenditure allocated to the programme for research in third level institutions in 2018. [24356/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The 2018 allocation to the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI) is €14.3m. This is a Capital allocation in the Department's Vote - there is no Current allocation under the PRTLI Subhead.

Trade Agreements

 563. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the likely ratification procedure at EU and member state level for ratification of a final Mercosur trade agreement relating to market access, quotas and the elements that fall under exclusive EU-level competence and areas that require national-level approval; if she or her Government colleagues have carried out assessments to date on the scenario; if the Attorney General was consulted in this regard; and if Dáil Éireann will have to ratify elements of a final Mercosur agreement, including the provisional application of the agreement. [24547/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Common Commercial Policy is an exclusive competence of the European Union under the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty extended this competence to cover foreign direct investment, as well as making the European Parliament a co-legislator alongside the Council on trade matters. The European Commission acts as lead negotiator on behalf of all EU countries regarding trade agreements with non-EU countries. Member States (in Council) approve negotiating directives (or mandates) before negotiations begin, are kept informed of developments as the negotiations proceed and have final approval at Council.

The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). If concluded an EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement would be the EU’s largest trade deal to date, four times the size of the trade agreement with Japan.

As with any Free Trade Agreement negotiations, Ireland, like all Member States, has defensive as well as offensive trade interests. We are mindful of the cumulative impact of EU FTAs on specific sectors like agriculture and the challenges they face. Officials from my Department continue to be engaged, through the Trade Policy Committee, in highlighting the importance of maintaining the balance between the EU’s defensive and offensive interests. Equally, when the Commission has reported on progress in these negotiations to Trade Ministers in Council, I have set out Ireland’s key interests. Furthermore insofar as our defensive interests in agriculture are concerned, both An Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine have also engaged with their counterparts.

The Commission may present some EU trade agreements as 'EU-only' meaning that all the policy areas they cover fall under the sole responsibility of the EU institutions. Other agreements may be presented as 'mixed' where they have areas of shared responsibility between the EU and Member States. Only at the conclusion of negotiations and when the Commission presents an Agreement to Council can an agreement be determined definitely as being 'EU-only' or ‘mixed’. Were a deal to be concluded between the EU and Mercosur in 2018, the relevant text would proceed to so-called “legal scrubbing”, and translation, a process which can take up to two years to complete. The ratification process regarding individual trade agreements must be taken on a case-by-case basis depending on the issues comprehended in the final agreement. Where appropriate, my Department seeks legal advice on the appropriate ratification process to follow in each case.

Mixed agreements enter into force only once each individual EU Member State has approved it in line with its own National procedures. As this process may take several years, the Council can decide to provisionally apply an agreement ('provisional application'). Provisional Application generally applies to those parts of the agreement over which the EU has exclusive competence. The extent of EU only competence was addressed comprehensively in the 2017 Opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the EU-Singapore FTA case. Provisional Application requires the agreement by Council and ratification by the European Parliament.

As regards the more general issue of the benefits and opportunities arising from Free Trade Agreements, my Department is currently in the process of undertaking a comprehensive study which will examine in depth the economic impact and opportunities of existing and forthcoming EU Free Trade Agreements, including with Mercosur. The analysis from the study will inform the Department and relevant agencies in setting the policy framework required for Irish businesses to take full advantage of concluded trade agreements and preferential trade access, and to prepare for future opportunities; including Mercosur.

Programme for Government Implementation

 564. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of the implementation of the programme for partnership Government as it applies to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24570/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys A key objective of the Programme for Partnership Government, from the perspective of my Department, is to provide a supportive environment for enterprise and employment and to deliver sustainable full employment. In the Programme, my Department was tasked with supporting a leap forward in the capacity and performance of our enterprise sector and delivering an environment that is conducive to the creation and maintenance of quality employment. We have set a target of 200,000 extra jobs by 2020, with 135,000 of these to be in locations outside Dublin. The latest statistics show that employment continues to grow strongly:

- 97,500 jobs were created between Q2 2016 and Q4 2017, bringing total employment to 2,225,100.

- Full time employment increased by 7.8% (from 1,632,900 to 1,761,800) from Q2 2016 to Q4 2017.

- Unemployment decreased nationally from 204,900 in Q2 2016 to 151,500 in Q4 2017, with the monthly unemployment rate now at 5.8% in May 2018.

With regard to regional employment, the statistics are encouraging:

- From Q2 2016 to Q2 2017, employment outside of Dublin grew by 3.0% compared to a growth of 1.3% in Dublin.

- Employment increased in all eight regions over the twelve month period to Q2 2017.

- The unemployment rate decreased in all regions from Q2 2016 – Q2 2017.

- Labour Force Survey data shows that 84% of the increase in employment in the year to Q2 2017 was outside Dublin.

IDA Ireland continues to work to attract foreign direct investment to Ireland. The agency created 10,684 net new jobs over the course of 2017, with every region in Ireland posting net gains in jobs. At the end of 2017 there were 210,443 people working in IDA Ireland client companies, the highest in IDA Ireland’s history. This figure surpasses the five-year target of 209,000 which was set in 2015 in the “Winning: Foreign Direct Investment” strategy. The IDA is continuing to work towards other objectives set out in this strategy, especially that of increasing the level of investment by between 30% and 40% in each region outside Dublin by 2019. Strong progress was made in this respect in 2017, with 45% of IDA Ireland supported jobs created located outside Dublin. Through its Regional Property Programme, the IDA is also developing appropriate property solutions in designated regional locations to attract overseas investment.

In the indigenous sector, 2017 was a very strong year for job creation among Enterprise Ireland clients with 19,332 new jobs created. 2017 resulted in the highest client employment in the history of the agency, highest net job creation in the history of the agency and the lowest number of job losses since 1998. There was positive net jobs growth in every county across the country, with 65% of new job creation outside of Dublin. Employment in Local Enterprise Office client companies now stands at 37,485 with 3,760 net new jobs were created in 2017.

My Department is focused on addressing the challenges that Brexit poses for business, and we established a dedicated Brexit Unit in 2016 to lead on the coordination of the Department’s policy and operational responses to Brexit, including our approach to the negotiations within the EU and bilateral relations with the UK. In November 2017, we published “Building Stronger Business: Responding to Brexit by competing, innovating and trading”. This paper summarises impacts of Brexit across key policy areas within the Department and outlines the policy and operational measures underway and planned by the Department and its Agencies to respond to Brexit, including supports available to companies to help them prepare for Brexit. The recently launched Agile Innovation Fund, launched in 2017, helps companies use innovation to mitigate risks posed by Brexit. Companies are already seeing that such initiatives increase business resilience and add value, whatever the full impacts of Brexit may be. We also provide regular input and advice to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on key issues for Ireland in the context of the negotiations including exit issues, transition, arrangements for framework for the future relationship.

In relation to Trade, according to CSO merchandise trade and balance of payments data, total exports have increased by 58 percent since 2012 to €283.7billion in 2017. The Government’s Trade Strategy, ‘Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World’, supports an extensive programme of Ministerial-led trade missions, as part of a major drive towards market diversification as well as ambitious targets for trade and investment. These include increasing our indigenous exports to reach €26 billion by 2020 – up by 26% from 2015, generating 30,000 more jobs in tourism by 2020 and €5 billion in overseas tourism revenues by 2025, and securing 900 new foreign direct investments in the period 2015-2019. In relation to Brexit, the target is to intensify and diversify 80% of indigenous export growth to 2020 to be outside of the UK market and maintain exports of at least €7.5 billion to the UK.

In 2017, Enterprise Ireland launched its Eurozone Strategy as a key element of its supports to help companies diversify their export markets. In particular, it aims to increase exports to the Eurozone by €2bn per annum by 2020, equivalent to 50 percent increase. This would represent one of the most significant shifts in Enterprise Ireland supported client exports into the Eurozone and is particularly important in the context of Brexit. More recently, Government’s Enterprise 2025 Renewed strategy published in March 2018 sets out targets for export growth and diversification within the indigenous exporting base, with ambitions to increase exports as a percentage of total sales of Irish owned companies from 52 percent to between 55 and 60 percent by 2020 and increase Enterprise Ireland client exports beyond UK markets from €14.1 billion to €17.4 billion by 2020.

The Programme for Partnership Government commits to alleviating pressures on household budgets and, in this context, the work of the Personal Injuries Commission, established in January 2017, will play an important role in helping to address the cost of motor insurance in Ireland, complementing the work of the Cost of Insurance Working Group. The first report of the Commission was published in December 2017 and work is progressing on the Commission’s final report, which will focus predominately on benchmarking of Irish motor insurance personal injury awards with those in other jurisdictions.

My Department is also focusing on the introduction of a number of additional supports for business. A Taking Care of Business event was held in Dublin Castle in November 2017 at which nearly 500 members of the business community – including SMEs, start-ups, entrepreneurs and business students –engaged face to face with 30 state agencies, offices and services to learn about the broad range of advice and support that are available for their business. A number of representative bodies from industry also came together to support the event. A further regional event is planned for 25th September in the Mid-West. A new Employment Permits Online System was launched in September 2016, achieving a 95% take-up rate in the first two weeks. This high rate of take-up has continued since then. Under the new system, the application to decision time can take as little as 5-7 working days to complete, an excellent timeframe by international comparison.

In April, my Department published its Statement of Strategy for the 2018-2021 period and this outlines the many areas where my Department will maintain focus over that timeframe to deliver on our commitments under the Programme for Partnership Government.

International Students

 565. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if options for the promotion of second level schools for international students through Enterprise Ireland will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25139/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My colleague Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education, has policy responsibility for the International Education Strategy for Ireland, 2016 - 2020. As part of that Strategy, Enterprise Ireland, which is an agency under my remit, is tasked with the promotion and marketing of international education.

I understand that the Department of Education and Skills does not have a policy to promote second level schools for international students.

Commencement of Legislation

 566. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the sections and parts of all legislation brought forward by her Department in each of the past four years that have yet to be commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25171/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Details of sections or parts of my Department's legislation from the last four years that have not been commenced are set out below.

Act/Section of Act that has not been Commenced Reason Commencement Order has not been made
Companies Act 2014

Section 4(2)

Section 1325
Section 4(2) in so far as it relates to Regulation 6 of the European Communities (Mergers and Divisions of Companies) (Amendment)Regulations 2011 (S.I. No.306 of 2011).

The full repeal of Regulation 6 of the European Communities (Mergers and Divisions of Companies) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 was not possible due to a difference in national law requirements on mergers concerning notice requirements and those provided for in the EU regulations on cross-border mergers.

The reason this section has not commenced is because it would repeal the foundation documents of the Bank of Ireland. The section will only be commenced once Bank of Ireland decides to convert to a company incorporated under the Companies Act 2014.
Sections 65 to 70 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 The Workplace Relations Commission was established on the 1st October 2015 under the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and saw the merging of the activities of the National Employment Rights Authority, the Labour Relations Commission, the Equality Tribunal and the first instance functions of the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal into a new Body of First Instance - the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The appellate functions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal were incorporated into an expanded Labour Court. Sections 65 to 70 inclusive of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 relate to the dissolution of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) and cannot be commenced until the legacy caseload of the EAT has been finalised. The legacy caseload relates to cases submitted prior to the commencement of the Act on 1 October 2015 and has decreased to the point that there are currently less than 100 cases on hands.
Subsections (5)(b) and (6) of section 15 of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 Commencement of these provisions will be subject to the outcome of pending consultations. The provisions provide for a portion of the employment permit fee to be refunded to a person nominated by the applicant where the application is withdrawn or refused. Currently, fees are refunded to the applicant only. These provisions may commence when the necessary changes are made to the employment permits processing system to support such a policy change, subject to further consultations. The employment permit processing system has not yet been adapted to support the refund of fees to a person other than applicant. If it is considered necessary to do so, consultation will need to take place with the relevant bodies as regards other legislation and any unintended impact of this provision, e.g. The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010, as amended, etc.

Work Permits Eligibility

 567. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will consider amending a specific category under the employment permit regulations to address shortages in an area which is reaching a critical point with increasing demand for the job skill (details supplied). [25202/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys At my request, my Department is currently chairing an Interdepartmental Group to review the economic migration policies underpinning the current employment permits system, the purpose of which is to ensure that our current policies are fully supportive of Ireland’s emerging labour market needs, be they skills or labour shortages in certain sectors. A full report on the review is due by end June, with recommendations on a framework for the future operation of the employment permits regime. Following on from that Report, it is expected that a review of the lists of occupations for employment permits will be conducted in the second half of this year.

The Deputy will appreciate that retention issues in the State’s labour market should not be addressed through the deployment of the employment permits system. Healthcare Assistants are currently included on the ineligible list of employments. In order to remove an occupation from this list, there would need to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages and not to other factors such as salary and/or working conditions. Organisations in the relevant sector would need to provide the necessary data to substantiate their claims. A detailed business case for removal of Healthcare Assistants from the ineligible list, based on this detailed data, would then need to be put forward by the Department of Health, as the lead Department for the sector, to my Department.

I am aware that my colleague, Minister of State Daly, with special responsibility for Older People, has had various meetings with the nursing home sector and this matter has been discussed. To date, such detailed evidence has yet to be provided by the sector to his Department. However, I understand Minister Daly is willing to work with the industry on this important issue to ensure continuity of service in the best interests of residents.

EU Directives

 568. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the reason for the delay in the transposition of the trade secrets directive, EU Directive 2016/943; if Dáil Éireann will have an opportunity to debate it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25501/18]

 569. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her attention has been drawn to the serious concerns surrounding the impact the trade secrets directive may have on whistleblower protections here; the way in which she plans to address the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25503/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I propose to take Questions Nos. 568 and 569 together.

EU Directive 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure has been transposed by way of S.I.188 of 2018 and my Department will lay these Regulations before both Houses of the Oireachtas. The Regulations, made under the 1972 European Communities Act, provide for civil redress measures and remedies in the event a trade secret is unlawfully acquired, used or disclosed. The confidentiality of the trade secret during court proceedings is ensured by limiting access to the hearing and court documents containing the trade secret.

During the course of my Department's public consultation on the transposition of the Directive, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform informed my Department it had obtained legal advice to the effect the Directive imposes a requirement of a subjective public interest test and that the transposing legislation should amend the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 by adding a requirement that "protected disclosure" which came within Article 5 (b) of the Directive must be made for the purpose of protecting the public interest. Legal advice obtained by my Department supported this view and accordingly the S.I. contains such an amendment so that Ireland achieves a full transposition of the Directive.

International Bodies Membership

 570. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if negotiations have taken place in regard to Ireland becoming a member of CERN; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25551/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Innovation 2020, the national strategy for research and innovation, recognises that in order for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader, our research and innovation system must be open with strong international collaboration links. Membership of leading International Research Organisations is an important mechanism for facilitating this engagement. For this reason, the Government gave a specific commitment in Innovation 2020 to initiate negotiations with CERN on Ireland's membership options.

Discussions with CERN commenced in 2016 and senior officials from my department, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland visited CERN in Geneva in July 2016. The Director-General of CERN, Dr Fabiola Gianotti, visited Dublin in October 2016 and met with the former Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. The information gathered during these engagements has provided my officials with a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits of membership of CERN. While these benefits are significant, the cost of membership is also significant. Therefore, the case for membership of CERN must be assessed in the context of other investment priorities.

Regrettably, in view of the intense demands on the capital programme and the tight fiscal constraints it will not be possible to progress membership of CERN in 2018.

Ireland will be joining the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in October 2018, with a capital allocation obtained specifically to ensure Ireland's membership. This will cost €0.75 million in 2018 and increase to approximately €3.5 million in 2019. We will keep the issue of CERN membership under review and it is my hope that we may be in a position to progress CERN membership in the future, when the fiscal situation permits.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

 571. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys when the EU–Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will come before Dáil Éireann for a debate and vote; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25552/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The EU–Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) entered into force provisionally from the 21st September 2017. Provisional application is a standard part of EU trade agreements and allows only those parts of the agreement for which the EU has competence to be provisionally applied, pending the completion of each Member State’s procedures according to the requirements of their national law.

Irish companies may now take advantage of important provisions in the Agreement including the immediate elimination of 98% of tariffs on almost all key exports, access to the Canadian procurement market, the easing of regulatory barriers and more transparent rules for market access.

It is important to note that the provisions relating to investment protection and the Investment Court System are excluded from provisional application. This means Ireland or other Member States will not be bound by these provisions until they are ratified by all Member States in accordance with their national law.

In this regard, given the request by Belgium for an Opinion (1/17) from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the compatibility of the Investment Court System in CETA with the European Treaties, I have no immediate plans to seek the ratification of the Agreement. It would only be appropriate to do so after we have considered the Opinion of the CJEU. I understand that the CJEU has proposed to fix a hearing in this case, the expected date will be 26th June 2018. It is also important to see the benefits of CETA come into being, before it is put before the Dáil for ratification so there is a fully informed debate based on facts and evidence.

Ireland already has a strong trading relationship with Canada which is reflected in the €3.4 billion worth of annual trade between both countries. The value of Irish exports to Canada is worth €2.5 billion whilst the value of Irish imports from Canada is worth €868 million. I welcome the provisional application of CETA which will provide increased opportunities for new and existing Irish companies trading with Canada to build and develop further these relationships, providing increased growth and jobs.

With a small domestic market, further expansion in other markets is essential to our continued economic growth. Promoting diversified export markets such as Canada in light of the potential impacts of Brexit is a key priority for the Department, as reflected in our Ireland Connected Trade Strategy and Enterprise 2025 revised.

Departmental Funding

 572. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2019 to 2023; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [25564/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My ambition is to secure Ireland's position as the best place to succeed in business, delivering sustainable employment and high standards of living for all. The Deputy will be aware that the recently published National Development Plan (NDP) sets out a high-level financial and budgetary framework, which includes indicative Exchequer allocations, for each Ministerial Vote Group, over a five-year period from 2018 to 2022. The indicative allocations for my Department are set out in the following table:

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
€555m €620m €630m €640m €715m


  The precise budgetary Ministerial capital ceilings for the years 2019 to 2022 and beyond will be determined as part of the relevant annual Estimates processes. It is not possible at this time to provide the Deputy with the capital funding allocations for the years requested.

As regards the 2019 estimates process, it is expected that finalisation and publication of the 2019 REV allocations will be determined in early December 2019. Not withstanding the foregoing, the Deputy will be aware that the NDP, which is a ten-year plan out to 2027, also set out the investment priorities necessary to achieve the National Strategic Outcome 5: A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills. I and my Department are working to accelerate implementation of the key initiatives for which I have lead responsibility including:

  - In early April I launched the second phase of the €60m Regional Enterprise Development Fund. This is part of a rolling programme of competitive calls over the coming years, and builds on the €31m of awards I announced in December 2017;

  - I will announce the first call for proposals under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund in the coming weeks;

  - My Department is currently completing a review of the Seed and Venture Capital Scheme 2013-2018 and I will then bring forward proposals for a further scheme in 2019;

  - IDA Ireland is continuing to invest in property solutions to attract investments into the regions;

  - The number of world class Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres will increase further this year with the establishment of the Future Milk Centre;

  - Additional funding is being provided in 2018 and beyond to increase the number of PhD qualified researchers from higher education sector;

  - With the aid of funding from my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and support of the SBCI and EIB, I, along with Ministers Creed and Donohoe announced a new €300 million Brexit working capital loan fund for businesses with less than 500 employees at the end of March. My Department is also working with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, SBCI and EIB on developing a long-term loan scheme for businesses affected by Brexit.

  While the NDP is at a very early stage of its existence, I am determined to maximise the potential impacts of the funding being provided to my Department in the first five years of the Plan as set out above so as to ensure sustainable growth and quality employment for all.

Economic Data

 573. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the impact on industry here as a result of the US announcement on duties imposed on steel and aluminium and specifically on a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25586/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys On 31May 2018, the US announced that it will impose tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminium (10%) imports from the European Union to the US from the 1st June 2018. This followed the expiry of temporary exemptions granted to the EU in respect of the original Presidential Proclamations imposing these tariffs from the 23rd March 2018. The measures were introduced following an investigation by the US Department of Commerce into the effect of those industries on US national security. Ireland is deeply disappointed by the US decision to end the temporary exemption tariffs on steel and aluminium which had been granted to EU.

The EU is of the view that these tariffs are unjustified and in conflict with WTO rules. Over the past number of months, the EU, Ireland and other Member States have engaged with the US at all possible levels and with other partners to find a solution to the problem of overcapacity in the steel sector. These were issues I raised with Commerce Secretary Ross during my recent visit to Washington in May. I regret that these efforts, by the EU Trade Commissioner, Ireland and other Member States have not resulted in the EU being provided with a permanent exemption from US tariffs. The EU has continually indicated its openness to discuss ways to improve bilateral trade relations but has been clear that any talks must be preceded by a permanent exemption.

Ireland fully supports the EU Commission in its determination to fully protect the EU’s commercial interests from US steel and aluminium tariffs, in a WTO compatible manner. This includes the launching of proceedings against the US at the WTO, the imposition of rebalancing tariff measures (i.e. withdrawing tariff concessions on a number of imports from the US) and the possible imposition of safeguard measures (import quotas or tariffs to shield EU producers from a sudden influx of steel or aluminium into the EU market that would have ordinarily been destined for the US market).

With regard to the company referenced, its main activity is the production of alumina which is then exported for further processing to aluminium. I understand that the company does not directly export to the US and that the tariffs in question may therefore have limited immediate direct impact. However, it may be the case that customers of the firm could be affected. The IDA is therefore closely engaging with the company to determine the potential scope of any impact and we will continue to closely monitor the situation as it evolves.

Science Foundation Ireland Staff

 574. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if Science Foundation Ireland has filled the post of head of international within the agency; if not, when this post will be filled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25667/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Science Foundation Ireland has filled the post of Head of International. This contract was approved by my Department and the candidate commenced in the position on 12th March 2018.

The role is a key position in the organization with responsibility for the development and implementation of SFI’s international strategy, its international engagement activities and the development of its overseas footprint. Furthermore, the Head of International will be integral to SFI’s Brexit-related initiatives.

EU Data

 575. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the EU fines paid in each of the years 2015 to 2017, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25726/18]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has not paid any EU fines in the years 2015-2017.

Health Care Policy

 576. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the policy direction being pursued in regard to a matter (details supplied); if his officials will be directed to support the pursuit and scope of this new work on alcohol beverage labelling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24445/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Deputy will be familiar with Government Policy aimed at combatting the misuse of alcohol, a key feature of which is the Public Health Alcohol Bill which contains a number of provisions including one on the health labelling of alcohol products and another on the regulation of advertising and marketing of alcohol.

At present under EU food labelling rules the amount of information that must be presented to the consumer on the labels of alcoholic drinks is less than that of other food products.  EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC) provides an exemption for alcoholic beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol from the obligation to list ingredients or provide a nutrition declaration, such as the energy value and the amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt contained in the product

The Regulation places an obligation on the European Commission to adopt a report addressing whether or not alcoholic beverages should be covered by the requirement to provide the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration, and the reasons justifying possible exemptions.  This report was adopted by the EU Commission on 13 March 2017. In its conclusion it stated that as a first step current voluntary initiatives by industry should be allowed to develop further so as to provide a list of ingredients and nutrition declaration. The Commission invited industry to present a self-regulatory proposal that would cover the entire sector of alcoholic beverages.

The Commission would then assess the industry's proposal and if it was considered that the self-regulatory approach proposed by industry was unsatisfactory, the Commission would then launch an impact assessment to review further available options, in line with Better Regulation principles.

On the 12 March 2018, the alcoholic beverage industry submitted a self-regulatory proposal to the Commission which consisted of a joint self-regulatory proposal from the European alcoholic beverages sectors on the provision of nutrition and ingredients listing.  The proposal includes guiding principles and separate labelling proposals for each beverage sector, i.e. spirits drinks, wine, beer, cider and fruit wines.

The proposal does not contain a harmonised approach across all alcoholic beverage sectors and suggests that in certain cases some information could be provided “off label”, i.e. on websites or other electronic platforms. The matter is currently being considered by the Commission to determine if EU regulation will be proposed rather than the voluntary labelling programme.    

At a more global level, under the auspices of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, there are indications of some preliminary work being considered on alcohol beverage labelling.  The most recent meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL) took place in October 2017.

Following a discussion paper presented by the World Health Organisation, the Committee identified a number of areas for potential future work and included in the list was alcoholic beverages labelling.  A concern expressed was that similar overlapping work is underway in other international organisations.  The Committee, therefore, agreed that information would be sought from member countries, via a Circular Letter (still to issue), on current practices, issues in alcoholic beverages labelling and allergen labelling; and identify in Codex where provisions already exist and any potential further role for CCFL.

The CCFL agreed to develop a discussion paper on alcoholic beverages labelling.  This will be prepared by the Russian Federation with assistance from EU, Ghana, India and Senegal and future work will be subject to approval from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, at which Ireland will be represented.

My Department welcomes efforts at EU and other international levels to improve the requirements for the labelling of alcoholic beverages.  While such efforts may be in keeping with Ireland’s national policy on the consumption of alcoholic drinks, it will be some time before agreement on international proposals is reached.  In the interim, my Department will pursue the proposals already outlined in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, as I believe this is in the best interest of public health.

In terms of labelling of alcohol beverages, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill reflects the work of Codex in this area.  The labelling provisions in the Bill will ensure that consumers can make informed choices about their drinking. 

The Bill provides for the following information on the label of an alcohol product:

- A warning to inform the public of the danger of alcohol consumption;

- A warning to inform the public of the danger of alcohol consumption when pregnant;

- A warning to inform the public of the direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers;

- The quantity of grams of alcohol contained in the product;

- The number of calories contained in the alcohol product; and

- Details of a HSE website providing information on alcohol and related harms.

Products sold in kegs or casks will have an accompanying document with the above information.  Licensed premises will have a notice with the warnings and website information as above and will confirm that a document noting the alcohol content and energy value of every product for sale in the premises is available on request.  The information will also be required to be on any website that sells alcohol online.  The aim is to provide consumers with information about alcohol products regardless of the manner of purchase, whether in a shop, public house, on-line, etc.

Disability Allowance Data

 577. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of persons in receipt of disability allowance who hold a medical card. [24747/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.

Proposed Legislation

 578. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the detail of plans to repeal section 85(6) of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 in view of the repeal of the eighth amendment of the Constitution. [25123/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the Deputy will be aware, until the result of the recent referendum has been confirmed and the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill has been signed by the President, termination of pregnancy is regulated by constitutional and statute law. When the referendum result is confirmed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 will remain the law on the issue until such time as new legislation regulating termination of pregnancy has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Consideration will be given in relation to potential amendments that may be required to the provisions of section 85(6) of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act in the context of the recent referendum result.

Abortion Services Provision

 579. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he has had discussions with the United Kingdom authorities regarding the operation of legislation for the termination of pregnancies here and the way in which it impacts on Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25328/18]

 580. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if access to abortion services for women in Northern Ireland was discussed when he last spoke to his UK counterpart. [25356/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 579 and 580 together.

  As the Deputy will be aware, in the referendum on the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, the people voted in favour of deleting Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution and substituting it with wording confirming that the Oireachtas may make laws for the regulation of the termination of pregnancy in this country.

  On 29 May 2018, the Government approved the drafting of legislation based on the provisions of the General Scheme of a Bill to Regulate Termination of Pregnancy, published on the Department of Health website.

  Work is ongoing on the legislation to regulate termination of pregnancy, the services necessary to support the implementation of this legislation, and associated costs.

  I have not discussed the issue with my counterpart in the UK.


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