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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 54-62
 Header Item Foreign Military Personnel
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Emigration Data
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Pension Related Deductions

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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Written Answers Nos. 54-62

  Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 9.

Foreign Military Personnel

 55. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore further to Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 6 March 2013 if permission was sought for US military personnel to wear uniform outside the transit area of Shannon Airport on 10 February 2013; and, if so, if this was granted. [19383/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In accordance with the provision of Section 317 of the Defence Act, 1954, express permission has been granted to the US authorities for their military personnel to wear military uniform in the transit areas of Irish airports. Enquiries made by the Department have not identified an instance of the wearing of uniform by US military personnel outside the transit area of Shannon Airport on 10 February 2013. However, should the Deputy be in a position to provide further information, my Department will be happy to look further into the matter.

Departmental Expenditure

 56. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if any of his Department’s 2012 capital expenditure allocation was used for current expenditure purposes last year, the amount used for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19216/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore None of my Department’s capital expenditure allocation was used for current expenditure in 2012.

Departmental Expenditure

 57. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will provide the month by month profile for his Department's 2013 capital expendiuture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19232/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My Department does not operate any capital investment programmes but has a small administrative capital allocation. This is mostly used to support investment in ongoing renewal of the Department’s ICT infrastructure to leverage maximum operating cost-effectiveness with reducing staff resources; necessary replacement of equipment and the development of new software applications for the enhancement of passport and consular services to citizens; and essential maintenance and refurbishment of diplomatic premises abroad. The table below presents the profiled capital expenditure 2013 for both Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Vote 27 (International Co-operation).

  Jan

€000
Feb

€000
Mar

€000
April

€000
May

€000
June

€000
July

€000
Aug

€000
Sept

€000
Oct

€000
Nov

€000
Dec

€000
Total

€000
V28 - FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
62
62
62
305
315
328
315
305
315
1423
1441
1162
6095
V27 - INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION
0
0
0
50
10
10
30
20
30
10
95
0
255
 
62
62
62
355
325
338
345
325
345
1433
1536
1162
6350

Military Aircraft Landings

 58. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore further to Parliamentary Question No. 56 of 6 March 2013 if he will confirm that the 608 foreign military aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport in 2012 were all unarmed, carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives; if he will also confirm that they did not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question did not form any part of military exercises or operations; and if this was not the case, if he will clarify the basis upon which the aircraft were permitted to land. [19384/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore As outlined in the response to the Parliamentary Question referred to by the Deputy, the Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952 gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland. Permission for foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports is subject to assurances that the conditions mentioned by the Deputy, namely that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, do not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operations, are fully met. I have no evidence to suggest that these conditions were not met in relation to any of the 608 foreign military aircraft which landed in Shannon Airport in 2012.

Emigration Data

 59. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the statistics available to his Department on the numbers of emigrants from Ireland on a yearly basis in the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19450/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The figures requested by the Deputy in respect of immigration to Britain, America, Canada and Australia from 2003 to 2012 are set out below. These statistics are published by the CSO and can be found on their website. The Deputy should note that the prior to 2007, specific figures for Australia and Canada are not available with both countries included in the “Other Countries” category. For the purposes of these figures, “Other Countries” refers to all countries except, the UK, US and our 26 EU partners.

From 2007, figures for Australia and Oceania are available but Canada remains included in the “Other Countries” category which refers to all countries except,

 the UK, US, Australia and Oceania and our 26 EU partners.

Estimated Emigration (Thousand) by Year and Country of Destination, 2003-2006

Y/E April United Kingdom United States Other countries
2003 8.6 2.8 11.4
2004 7.1 3.9 10.5
2005 7.9 3.3 12.7
2006 8.8 3.3 15.8


  Estimated Emigration (Thousand) by Year and Country of Destination, 2007-2012*
Y/E April United Kingdom United States Australia & Oceania Other countries
2007 11.1 3.1 13.1 7.7
2008 7.6 2.4 12 9.3
2009 13.2 4.1 13.3 8.9
2010 15.3 2.9 11.7 12.7
2011 20 4.7 15.4 16.4
2012 19 8.6 19.7 15.8
  *Figures for 2012 are preliminary.

  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), provides funding to non-profit organisations and projects to support Irish communities overseas and to facilitate the development of more strategic links between Ireland and the global Irish. Between 2004 and 2012, over €104 million has been provided under the Programme.

  Details of all grant recipients since 2006 can be found on my Department’s website athttp://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=298. The emphasis of the Emigrant Support Programme is on supporting culturally sensitive, front-line welfare services, targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities, particularly in Britain and the United States. These services have made a substantive difference to the lives of these communities overseas through reducing homelessness, tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local statutory entitlements.

  In addition, the ESP has facilitated Government support for a range of community and heritage projects, strategic capital projects and other initiatives aimed at creating practical results-orientated links between Ireland and the global Irish, including those that emerged from the Global Irish Economic Forums.

  I am pleased that, despite the difficult financial situation we face, the Government has maintained the 2013 funding for the ESP at €11.59 million, the same level as 2012. The focus in 2013 will be on key front-line welfare and advisory services and on projects aimed at supporting new arrivals. The 2013 grant round closed on 20 February. Applications for 360 projects from 16 countries are currently under review. I expect to be in a position to make announcements in the coming weeks.

Property Taxation Administration

 60. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will outline the total costs incurred to date and the total estimated costs that will be incurred in establishing extra facilities to handle queries from members of the public on the new local property tax; if he will provide full details of the contract awarded to a private contractor to handle the volume of calls; if any additional staff have been taken on by the Revenue Commissioners in respect of the administration of the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19169/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the introduction of the Local Property Tax (LPT), which amounts to the largest extension of the self-assessment system in the history of the State, represents a significant administrative challenge for Revenue. As a new service that will have exceptional temporary pressures at particular stages of its initial implementation it is difficult to predict the level of contact that will arise during its introduction and, consequently, the resource required to handle queries from members of the public. The Expenditure Report for 2013, which was published in December last, makes a provision of €25.9m in 2013 for the implementation of LPT. The total cost of LPT to the end of March 2013 is approximately €6.6m.

Revenue considered a number of options for the provision of a phone call service to handle queries from members of the public. Revenue decided to use a mix of existing staff, staff from the redeployment resource panel, temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) and external resources to deal with Local Property Tax. At the end of March 2013, Revenue had a total of 155 full-time equivalent staff assigned to LPT, comprising 125 permanent and 30 TCOs. The permanent staff resource was filled through the internal redeployment of existing staff and the recruitment of a total of 29 staff from the Public Service Resource panel. Revenue is currently in the process of recruiting an additional 25 TCOs to support the introduction of LPT.

Following an open competitive tendering process, the contract for call services was awarded on the basis that the service provider would

1. Deliver information and assistance to taxpayers having difficulty understanding LPT and completing their returns and making payments.

2. Assist taxpayers to navigate a new online system for filing returns and payments for LPT.

3. Escalate calls to a Revenue call service where taxpayer specific information is required to resolve the call.

4. Make outbound calls to taxpayers with information on their LPT queries where requested by Revenue to do so.

5. Provide telephony infrastructure and supports to allow direct transfer to Revenue.

6. Support services and resources including account management and quality control.

The service is provided on a 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday basis. The service provider has the ability to scale operations up or down in response to call volumes. The service must meet Revenue customer service standards and the industry ISO standards and Revenue has provided training and training material to ensure that the standards are achieved. An Irish language service is provided. The necessary confidentiality and security procedures have been implemented as agreed.

The service commenced on 7 March 2013 and call volumes of 108,100 were handled up to 16 April 2013. Regular operational management, reporting and review meetings were provided for in the contract. Reporting arrangements and quality monitoring arrangements were agreed and are being delivered. The nature of the contract is that the cost will depend on the volume of calls handled. In accordance with the relevant Government decision, the Revenue Commissioners publishes quarterly lists of payments over €20,000 and payments made under this contract will be included in future lists. Revenue has advised that a total €67,000 was spent on external service delivery of call centre services in Q1 2013.

The external service delivery of peak call handling in respect of the LPT provides a flexible, scalable response to an unpredictable demand. It also provides assurance that the introduction of LPT will not adversely affect Revenue’s capacity to deliver for the Exchequer in relation to their overall priority of maintaining and improving levels of compliance across the range of taxes and duties.

Property Taxation Administration

 61. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the amount of tax assessment form returns for the local property tax on a county basis. [19189/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant deadlines for filing LPT Returns are 7 May for paper filers and 28 May for electronic filers. At the launch of the Commissioners Annual Report this morning, they announced that as of 23 April, 218,903 LPT Returns had been filed. Of these, 133,716 were filed electronically and 85,187 were paper Returns. The Commissioners have confirmed that it is not possible at this time to provide a breakdown of the number of LPT Returns filed on a regional or county basis pending the completion of the bulk processing of the Returns.

Pension Related Deductions

 62. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason a person (details supplied) in County Louth has high pension related deductions taken from their salary at a very early stage during the year; the reason it is not possible to treat one of their incomes separately from their other income for the purposes of PRD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19195/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I regret that it was not possible, in the time available, to provide an answer to this question. A response is currently being prepared and this will be forwarded shortly, directly to the Deputy.


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