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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 180-187
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Availability
 Header Item Office of Public Works Properties
 Header Item State Properties
 Header Item Tribunals of Inquiry Recommendations
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Office of Public Works Properties
 Header Item First-Aid Training
 Header Item Apprenticeship Programmes

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 107 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 180-187

Tax Reliefs Availability

 180. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the restoration of tax relief for union subscriptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29644/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe A review of the appropriate treatment for tax purposes of trade union subscriptions and professional body fees was carried out by my Department in 2016 and included in the 2016 report on tax expenditures published on budget day 2016. The review may be found at the following link:

(http://www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2017/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report%202016_final.pdf)  

  The review concluded that:

  "...analysis of the scheme using the principles laid down by the Department’s Tax Expenditure Guidelines shows that it fails to reach the evaluation threshold to warrant introduction in this manner.

  The reinstatement of this tax relief would have no justifiable policy rationale and does not express a defined policy objective. Given that individuals join trade unions largely for the well-known benefits of membership, and the potential value of the relief to an individual would equate to just over €1 per week, this scheme would have little to no incentive effect on the numbers choosing to join. There is no specific market failure that needs to be addressed by such a scheme, and it would consist largely of deadweight."

  Given the conclusions of the review, I have no plans to reintroduce such a relief.

Office of Public Works Properties

 181. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status and future plans for a closed OPW building (details supplied). [29475/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran The former Garda station in Quin, Co. Clare was among the 139 Garda stations identified for closure by An Garda Síochána in 2012 and 2013. Many of these properties reverted to the OPW to identify an alternative State use or manage their disposal.

  In 2016, An Garda Síochána/Policing Authority undertook a review of the closed Garda Stations under the Programme for a Partnership Government.  In late 2017, the preliminary review initially identified six stations for re-opening.  These were:

  - Ballinspittle, Co Cork

  - Bawnboy, Co Cavan

  - Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow

  - Donard, Co Wicklow

  - Stepaside, Co Dublin

  - Rush, Co Dublin

  The Programme for a Partnership Government also requested the Policing Authority to oversee a review of ‘both the boundaries of Garda districts and the dispersal of Garda stations in rural areas and in developing urban and suburban areas with a view to ensuring both an efficient and optimum geographical distribution of stations’.  In this regard, the Acting Garda Commissioner requested the OPW not to dispose of any additional former Garda stations, pending the outcome of the review.  

  Once the review is completed, the future of the former station at Quin will be determined.

State Properties

 182. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the State and NAMA owned buildings in Newbridge. [29534/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I wish to advise the Deputy that NAMA does not own property. Instead NAMA acquired loans and its role is as a secured lender.

  NAMA is prohibited from disclosing confidential debtor information under Sections 99 and 202 of the NAMA Act, including information on the location and type of assets owned by debtors. As a result it is not possible to identify particular assets which secure NAMA loans in Newbridge, as I am advised that to do so could identify the owners of these properties as NAMA debtors. However, while not identifying specific properties, I am advised that NAMA holds security over a single commercial property in Newbridge town, as well as a number of plots of land in the surrounding areas.

NAMA’s Annual Report & Financial Statements for 2017, which was launched last month and which is available on the NAMA website, www.nama.ie, includes information on the property collateral securing NAMA’s remaining loan portfolio. I am advised that, as of 31 December 2017, just 4% of the remaining property portfolio securing NAMA loans was located in Kildare.

  There are c.100 non-commercial State organisations that hold property - from Central Government Departments to Local Authorities, Education Training Boards, the IDA etc.  In addition there are State-owned commercial bodies that hold property. I am not in a position to answer on behalf of all of these organisations, and can only answer for what the Commissioners for Public Works hold in their own right, or on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Commissioners of Public Works have 6 properties in Newbridge - the Garda Station and two Garda residences on Main Street, the Department of Defence Offices on Station Road, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection offices on Moorefield Road and a small office building on Eyre Street.

Tribunals of Inquiry Recommendations

 183. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if all recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal have been implemented; the recommendations that are outstanding; and when they will be implemented. [29040/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In response to the Deputy's question, the Moriarty Tribunal made a number of recommendations which affected a number of Government Departments. As Minister for Finance I can only respond in relation to the recommendations made in relation to my own Department.

  The tribunal pointed out problems to be addressed in our system of financial regulation.  Poor supervision, an overly deferential attitude by regulators, poor assessment of risks and a lack of follow-through on enforcement, all played a part in the financial crisis.  I and my European counterparts have been working steadfastly since the financial crisis to bring about strengthened oversight and resolution regimes. The entire financial services landscape has changed utterly, characterised by the presence of new European institutions; strengthened regulations; a more intrusive supervisory approach; and a new focus on macroprudential requirements.

  New European regulations have strengthened controls over the banking system and have resulted in an overhaul of regulation, supervision and resolution regimes. The Capital Requirements Regulation and Directive, which came into force in 2014, brought about significant enhancements in the quality and quantity of capital that banks are required to hold and the setting of minimum liquidity requirements.

  The Banking Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and the Single Resolution Mechanism have transformed the framework for dealing with failing banks and are designed to provide a financial safety net and a means for recovery and resolution with minimum disruption to the sovereign. The overarching objective of the BRRD is to shift the cost of bank failure from taxpayers to shareholders and creditors of the institutions themselves.

  The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) is now responsible for the prudential supervision framework for euro area banks. The central piece of the SSM supervisory process is the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP) under which European Central Bank led joint supervisory teams inspect business models, internal governance, profitability and banking risks.

  All of these new regulations and institutional arrangements have been designed to address the challenges of banking oversight and resolution at a European level and provide for a pro-active approach towards systemic and emergent risks at a European level.

  Besides the introduction of new European and national regulations, the Central Bank too has increased its resources and has become more pro-active in addressing systemic risk.

  In response to the Tribunal recommendations, I considered the provision of tax relief for donations to political parties and decided against introducing such relief. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 provided for changes to the Electoral Act, 1997 and imposed new limits for donations. Donations to individuals exceeding €600 must be declared and donations exceeding €1,000 in any one year may not be accepted. Political party donations greater than €1,500 must be declared and donations greater than €2,500 in any one year may not be accepted. These limits, in themselves, should act to deter any attempts by wealthy individuals to influence political activity.

  Recommendation: Representations to Revenue by Office holders -

  In relation to this proposal, I remain of the view that this recommendation could best be considered in the context of the Government's overall approach to political and parliamentary reform. Representations are a valid part of the political process. The Government may wish to consider whether this recommendation should be confined to Revenue, or to Office holders, or whether the Commissioners decision to publish data on the volume of representations made by each Deputy is an adequate response.

  The Office of the Revenue Commissioners has advised in relation to the following recommendations of the Moriarty Tribunal that:

  Recommendation: Independence of the Revenue Commissioners-

  Section 101 of the Minister and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 placed on a statutory basis the independence of the Revenue Commissioners in the exercise by the Commissioners of their statutory functions under the various taxation and customs enactments. This has given effect to the recommendation of the Report of the Tribunal into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters (that is, the report of Mr. Justice Moriarty), that the principle or convention of the independence of the Revenue Commissioners be placed on the more robust status of a legislative provision.

  Recommendation: Transmission to other agencies of information obtained by Revenue under bilateral agreements –

  This recommendation has been considered. These agreements are international treaties which are very precisely drawn as to the purpose for which information may be used and would not permit such transmission. However, if opportunities arise in the future, the Commissioners will consider the matter further. The Deputy will appreciate that Revenue is not in a position to comment on matters relating to individuals for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality.

Departmental Contracts Data

 184. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of times his Department has engaged polling companies and-or Irish market researchers to conduct research on its behalf in each of the past two years; the names of such companies; the costs associated with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29579/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Year Name of company Amount Purpose
2016 IPSOS MRBI €27,060 A survey of Civil Service customers
2016 Perceptive Insight €18,425 A survey of Civil Service business customers
2016 RED C €28,290 Preparatory work on Gov.ie Portal
2016 Gartner €127,428 Provision of research and analysis services to the OGP ICT portfolio
2017 IPSOS MRBI €27,060 A survey of Civil Service customers
2017 Analysys Mason €26,912 Provision of research and analysis services for the OGP's Mobile Voice and Data Services sourcing strategy to inform optimum approach to telecoms market for establishment of a central framework
2017 Gartner €127,428 Provision of research and analysis services to the OGP ICT portfolio
2017 Coyne Research Associations Ltd €36,300 Research into experience of engagement with the OGP among client Public Sector Bodies
  * OGP – Office of Government Procurement

Office of Public Works Properties

 185. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding an empty house (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29583/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran The Commissioners of Public Works, on behalf of the State, manage a large and diverse property portfolio of over 2,500 properties.  These range from office accommodation to heritage properties, visitor centres, Garda stations, among others.   

In addition, there are a limited number of sundry residential dwellings that are intrinsic to the estates of parks and gardens as part of our National Historic Properties managed by the Office of Public Works.  In general, these are allocated to staff in specific posts, such as Park Superintendents, Deer Keepers, etc. where there is a requirement for them to be present on the ground.

The property referred to is currently unoccupied due to its poor condition. It is hoped that as funds become available the OPW will commence refurbishment of the property, at which point a decision on its use will be considered in line with its particular location as part of the Phoenix Park estate.

First-Aid Training

 186. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to ensure that all teachers have a basic understanding of administrating adrenaline auto injectors in emergencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29472/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department promotes the quality of teaching and learning through the provision of quality teacher training programmes and continuing professional development and support for principals and teachers in a range of pedagogical, curricular and educational areas. This is done through initial teacher education programmes, education centres and support services for teachers at primary and post-primary level.

Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the students in their school and care and safety should be at the centre of all policy and practices. Schools are required to take all reasonable precautions to provide training for teachers to ensure the safety and welfare of their pupils.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) advise that by law, employers and those who control workplaces to any extent must identify hazards in the workplaces under their control and assess the risk presented by the hazards.

Employers must write down the risks and what to do about them. This is known as Risk Assessment. The aim of Risk Assessment is to reduce the risk of injury and illness associated with work. The Risk Assessment(s) will form part of the employer's Safety Statement.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 set out the First-Aid requirements for workplaces as follows: "Employers have a duty to provide first-aid equipment at all places at work where working conditions require it. Depending on the size or specific hazard (or both) of the place of work, trained occupational first-aiders must also be provided. Apart from some exceptions, first-aid rooms must be provided where appropriate. Information must also be provided to employees as regards the first-aid facilities and arrangements in place."

It is important that the school management authority requests parents to ensure that the school is made aware of any medical condition suffered by any student attending. Where the school is aware of potential difficulties that may arise as a consequence of a medical condition suffered by one or more students, it may be possible for the management authorities, working in conjunction with parents, teachers and children to put preventative measures in place to lessen the possibility of any difficulties arising or to ensure that, if a student suffers from an illness requiring, for example, the administration of medication, that appropriate treatment is available.

The administration of medicines in primary schools is the subject of an agreement between the Irish National Teachers Organisation and the organisation representing school management at primary level. While this agreement specifies that no teacher can be required to administer medicine or drugs to pupils, it also sets out procedures that must be followed where a teacher or teachers agree to do so. The position is that either the parents of the child should make themselves available to administer medication as required, or where they wish the staff in the school to administer it, they should indemnify the school.

My Department cannot direct any member of the Board of Management or the teaching staff of the school to administer medical treatment to pupils, action and procedures which are normally carried out by medical professionals such as doctors and nurses. 

The organisation of training in the administration of medicines is a matter for the Board of Management and my Department has no plans for future training programmes in this area.

Where a child requires adult assistance to assist in the administration of medicine and where the extent of assistance required would overly disrupt normal teaching time, SNA support may be allocated for this purpose.

It is a matter for the Board of Management to ensure that SNAs are in a position to effectively meet the care needs of students for whom SNA support has been allocated in the school when appointing an SNA.

Where specific training is required, the Board of Management should liaise with the Health Service Executive (HSE) in order to ensure that the HSE provides guidance and training that enables the SNA to meet the care needs of the pupil in an appropriate manner. It is a matter for individual school authorities to make such arrangements locally.

It is my Department's experience that once the matter has been discussed in detail with the Board of Management and staff of a school, and once all parties are clear as to the procedures to be followed, arrangements can normally be made to assist the administration of first aid or medicine.

In September 2016, I requested the NCSE to lead a comprehensive review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme to identify and recommend how, in the future, the additional care needs of students, over and above those needs that could be reasonably expected to be managed by teaching staff, should be met and to identify and recommend the most appropriate form of support options to provide better outcomes for students with Special Educational Needs who have additional care needs, having regard to the significant amount of State investment in this area.

The administration of medication and other such issues in schools, were raised with the NCSE as part of the consultation process of this review.

The Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme was published by the NCSE on 30 May 2018 and my Department is developing proposals to implement the recommendations of the Review.

Apprenticeship Programmes

 187. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason for the lack of capital expenditure on the printing apprenticeship programme. [29606/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan As the Deputy is aware, apprenticeship is a demand driven educational and training programme which aims to develop the skills of an apprentice in order to meet the needs of industry and the labour market.  Consequently, the number of apprentices being registered is determined by employers in the sector.

Over the last number of years the number of employers registering apprentices to the craft of print media has significantly declined. Out of the 145 apprentices who were registered on the print media apprenticeship between 2006-2017 only 87 completed their apprenticeship and gained certification.  Due to the low participation level, in September 2016 SOLAS suspended registrations in the print media programme and undertook to engage with the sector to see how the programme could be updated and made fit for future purpose.

I understand from SOLAS that in 2017 the Irish Printing Federation carried out a survey of the industry to ascertain the level of support for an apprenticeship on an ongoing basis. The findings from the survey indicated there was insufficient support from industry to sustain an apprenticeship in the sector. Engagement took place with SOLAS and the print media industry early in 2018. In light of this, SOLAS has paused the apprenticeship until such time as there is sufficient support from the sector. Any capital funding for the programme would be determined as part of this updating process.


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