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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 101-121
 Header Item Overseas Missions
 Header Item Overseas Missions
 Header Item Value for Money Reviews
 Header Item Banking Sector Remuneration
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item International Fund for Ireland
 Header Item Diplomatic Representation
 Header Item European Parliament Membership
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item EU Summits
 Header Item Communicating Europe Initiative
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Provision
 Header Item Diplomatic Contacts
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Application

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 101-121

Overseas Missions

 101. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update in the Defence Forces mission in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21307/13]

 104. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the situation with regard to the Defence Forces mission in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21328/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 104 together.  

Seven (7) members of the Permanent Defence Force continue to serve with ISAF which was established under Security Council Resolution 1386 on 20 December 2001. Planning for the drawdown of ISAF generally is currently ongoing and the withdrawal of the Defence Forces personnel from the mission will be co-ordinated within the context of the overall ISAF drawdown plan.

  Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 80.

Overseas Missions

 103. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to deploy personnel to Syria currently. [21290/13]

 105. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update in the current situation for Irish personnel serving with UNTSO, the UN Troop Supervision and UNDOF, the UN Observer Force on the Golan Heights after meeting with them on his recent trip. [21286/13]

 306. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to the four day kidnap of 21 UN Peacekeepers by Syrian rebels; and if there is any serious threat to the Irish personnel serving with the UN Troop Supervision Organisation and the UN Observer Force on the Golan Heights. [15519/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 103, 105 and 306 together.

I also met with Major General Iqbal Singh Singha of India, the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). I was briefed on security issues in that area, especially the growing risks flowing from instability in Syria and the impact of the refugee crisis in the region.

I was also briefed on the detention and subsequent safe release of twenty one (21) personnel serving with UNDOF in early March 2013. In the days following, UNDOF vacated two positions which were particularly exposed to gunfire.

The conflict in Syria has spread to the Golan Heights and has had an impact on the operations of both UNDOF and UNTSO. Both UNDOF and UNTSO are working closely together and have taken a number of steps to increase security and to provide maximum force protection to its members as they conduct their tasks.

Currently, members of the Permanent Defence Force are not serving with UNDOF. However, last month Ireland received requests from the UN to deploy a small number of additional observers to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East to the Headquarters of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria. These requests are currently receiving consideration and a decision will be made shortly.

Six members of the Permanent Defence Force who had been deployed as unarmed military observers to the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) were withdrawn in August 2012 when the mission’s mandate came to an end.

  Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 101.

  Question No. 105 answered with Question No. 103.

  Questions Nos. 106 and 107 answered with Question No. 82.

Value for Money Reviews

 108. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the financial supports that will be made available to members of the Reserve Defence Forces into the future in view of the Value for Money Review. [21289/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Arising from the implementation of the recommendations of the VFM Review of the Reserve Defence Force, direct expenditure on the Reserve will reduce to €11 million in 2013. This reduction has arisen largely due to the PDF Cadre support staff being reduced to 57.

The budget for Reserve training activity is €3.243 million for 2013. In order to sustain a Reserve Force at a strength level of 4,069 within existing resources, gratuities have been withdrawn from members of the Reserve and money previously allocated to gratuities has been redirected into paid training to increase the number of paid Mandays. This measure has significantly boosted the number of Mandays available to members of the Reserve, rising from 30,000 Mandays in 2012 to 41,500 in 2013. The effect of increasing the number of paid training days by one-third will ensure sustainable training for members of the Reserve.

This will provide financial supports to all Reservists undertaking paid training. In contrast, only 1,828 Reservists qualified for the payment of a gratuity in 2012.

  Question No. 109 answered with Question No. 98.

Banking Sector Remuneration

 110. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny further to comments from the chief executive officer of a company (details supplied), at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2013, if, when he met with the person, he gave any commitment on bankers' pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21089/13]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny During a conversation I had with Mr. Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald at an event in Davos organised by IDA Ireland with over 40 executives of major international companies, there were no discussions in respect of bankers' pay.

Departmental Properties

 111. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners' management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21252/13]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Neither my Department nor the National Economic and Social Development Office, which is the only body under the aegis of my Department, own or rent property in commercial developments.

International Fund for Ireland

 112. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the International Fund for Ireland has decided not to support the Wider Horizons Project that has over the past 25 years brought more than 17,000 unemployed persons both Catholic and Protestant from the North to Pittsburgh and elsewhere in the USA to live and learn together; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21088/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The International Fund for Ireland is an Independent International Organisation and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a decision of its Board. The Wider Horizons Programme was one of very many successful programmes that the Fund supported over that time. All of these programmes would not have been possible without the support of the international donors to the Fund, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to whom we should all be very thankful. I understand the Fund is operating with significantly reduced resources and this, coupled with changes in Northern Ireland, requires it to adapt its approach. Regrettably despite the remarkable progress made to secure peace on the island of Ireland, some work is still required in those communities that have not previously, or only partially, engaged in peace building and reconciliation activities. Based on the need for this additional intervention the Fund has developed a strategic framework for the period 2012-2015 which has three specific elements which will target very specific areas and groups with a view to embedding the Peace Process in communities that to date have not fully engaged with it. I understand that the Fund will formally launch its new strategy shortly and I will arrange for a copy to be furnished to Deputy Martin.

Diplomatic Representation

 113. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if the review of the Irish network on honorary consuls worldwide has concluded; if he will outline the main points of the review; the date on which he intends to publish the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21097/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Department’s review of Ireland’s Honorary Consul Service has not yet concluded. It is hoped to complete the review by mid 2013.

European Parliament Membership

 114. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if, in view of the fact that Ireland and the medium-sized EU countries are the most adversely affected by the European Parliament's recent decision to reallocate MEP seats, and in view of the fact that there is still no clarification on the Council position, the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union is prepared to liaise with similarly affected EU member states in order to ensure that adequate time is afforded to the redrawing of constituencies here if necessary; if he has a negotiation strategy to ensure that Ireland will not lose further seats in 2019, 2024 and beyond; if Ireland will accept the loss of an MEP seat without ensuring that there are no further losses in years to come; if Ireland has a veto on this matter; if Ireland alone could in fact block the reduction of MEP seats at Council level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21162/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In exercise of its right of initiative under Article 14.2 of the Treaty on European Union, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 13 March 2013 on the composition of the Parliament with a view to the 2014 elections. It is a matter for the President of the European Council to bring it to the European Council for decision. I understand that it is intended to do so in a timely fashion to allow for the necessary arrangements to be made at national level in Member States in good time for the 2014 elections. The Government does not view the current proposal as providing a basis for further adjustments to the composition of the European Parliament beyond the 2014 elections. In this context, we note the intention of the European Parliament, as outlined in its resolution, to submit, before the end of 2015 and in good time for the 2019 elections, a new proposal for a decision of the European Council, with the aim of establishing a durable and transparent system which, in future before each election, will allow seats to be apportioned amongst Member States in an objective manner, based on the principle of degressive proportionality as required by the Treaty and taking account of any increase in the number of Member States and demographic trends in their population. The resolution was adopted by a substantial majority in the European Parliament. When the decision of the European Council is taken, it must be consented to by the Parliament. Our approach will be considered in this context.

Departmental Properties

 115. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners' management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21246/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My Department does not own any property in the State and there are no agencies under its aegis. Ownership of Iveagh House, headquarters of my Department, is vested in the State. Lease and rental commitments relating to all other properties in the State occupied by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are discharged by the Office of Public Works.

EU Summits

 116. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he attended the recent EU-Japan trade agreement. [21362/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore On 22 March, the 21st EU-Japan Summit was postponed. This decision was taken due to the unfolding financial situation in Cyprus at the time. This required the presence of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. It was decided, in agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that the Summit be rescheduled at the earliest possible opportunity. From 15-19 April the first round of negotiations took place in Brussels. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for 24-28 June in Tokyo. Japan is the EU's 7th largest trading partner globally and the EU’s 2nd biggest trading partner in Asia after China. Conversely, the European Union is Japan’s 3rd largest trading partner. The opening up of Japan to further European trade and investment is expected to generate considerable gains for Ireland and our EU partners. It is estimated that an EU-Japan FTA could increase the EU’s GDP by 0.8% and create more than 400,000 jobs for the EU economy.

Communicating Europe Initiative

 117. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will indicate the person funding the Leviathan series of lectures entitled Communicating Europe; under what Department has it been promoted; the person responsible for the selection of speakers at this lecture series; the percentage of the fees paid to the Leviathan organisation that is coming form Irish taxpayers' money; if there was an open competition for the contract to facilitate and host these lectures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21421/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Communicating Europe Initiative (CEI) was established in 1995 to raise awareness about the European Union and to improve the quality and accessibility of public information on European issues. The programme is administered by the Department of the Taoiseach.   This year’s CEI was publicly launched on 29 January 2013, see link here:http://www.merrionstreet.ie/index.php/2013/01/government-announces-communicating-europe-initiative-2013-focus-on-irelands-40th-anniversary-in-the-eu-and-the-european-year-of-citizens-2013/. The closing date for funding applications was 15 February 2013.

Over 90 applications were received and these were examined by an evaluation committee comprising internal and external members. Forty six projects were recommended for funding. The list is here:http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Work_Of_The_Department/European_and_International_Affairs/EU_and_International_Affairs_Publications/Communicating_Europe_Initiative.html.

  The proposal by Leviathan to organise four regional Citizens’ Dialogues received an award of €39,000. Three have taken place (Athlone, Kilkenny and Limerick) and the last will be held in Letterkenny later this month. The arrangements for the events and selection of speakers are a matter for Leviathan. All Communicating Europe Initiative grant recipients are required to submit a report on completion of their projects.

Tax Code

 118. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if there are any exemptions from excise duty for charitable organisations who are trying to ship humanitarian aid to Lagos, Nigeria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21454/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello In certain circumstances, goods imported for charitable purposes may receive an exemption from import duties. The Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria would be happy to provide the relevant information to facilitate Irish charities and missionaries to apply to the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, Nigeria for such an exemption.

Overseas Development Aid Provision

 119. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the position regarding our Third World aid and our spend for each of the past four years in actual terms, as a per cent of GDP; his current policy regarding reaching 0.7% by 2015; if same is still the target; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21548/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Last week the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Gilmore, and I launched Ireland’s new policy on International Development – One World, One Future – where we set out our vision for a sustainable and just world. This policy sets out in very clear terms our goals and areas of focus and affirms Ireland’s commitment to international development and its centrality to our foreign policy.    Over the past four years, despite the unprecedented economic difficulties facing the country, this Government, and indeed its predecessor, provided significant financial allocations to Ireland’s development aid programme. Expenditure on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and its percentage of Gross National Product (GNP) for the past four years is as follows:

Year
Total ODA
ODA as a % of GNP
-
€m
2012
628.98
0.47%
2011
657.04
0.52%
2010
675.83
0.52%
2009
722.20
0.54%
  One World, One Future restates the Programme for Government commitment to achieving the UN target of providing 0.7% of GNP to ODA. However this can only be achieved when economic circumstances permit and in the meantime we will endeavour to maintain aid expenditure at current levels.

Diplomatic Contacts

 120. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will organise for the Irish Embassy in Oslo, Norway, to make contact with a person (details supplied) an Irish citizen in order to establish information regarding their well-being.  [21562/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore As I’m sure the Deputy will appreciate, officials from my Department have neither the qualifications, nor the authority in a foreign jurisdiction, to carry out assessments into the wellbeing of children who may also be citizens of that country. If the father of the person named by the Deputy has concerns for her welfare, he should report these concerns to An Garda Siochána (and to Irish Social Workers if An Garda Siochána deem this appropriate) so that investigations can be carried out through appropriate channels.

Tax Reliefs Application

 121. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason persons who availed of Revenue job assist whilst enduring long-term unemployment, subsequently receive wage deductions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21147/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Sections 472A and 88A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provide tax incentives for both employees and employers, to help the long-term unemployed to return to employment.

The relief under Section 472A, commonly known as the Revenue Job Assist scheme, allows qualifying employees, in addition to their normal tax credits, to claim certain income deductions, including additional deductions for qualifying children, for the three year period after taking up employment.

Section 88A provides an associated tax incentive for employers. Employers are entitled to claim a double deduction in computing the profits of the trade or profession in respect of the first 3 years wages paid to qualifying employees. This double deduction may also be claimed in respect of the employers' PRSI contribution on such wages.

In order to qualify for the Revenue Job Assist scheme, an individual must be unemployed for at least 12 continuous months prior to the date of commencement of the employment. They must also be in receipt of certain payments from the Department of Social Protection or signing for PRSI credits. Time spent on certain FÁS courses and employment schemes, as well as time spent in prison can count towards the "unemployed for 12 months" condition. The employer must not have made any staff redundant in the 26 weeks prior to the recruitment and must offer a job for a minimum of 30 hours per week with a contract for at least 12 months.

There is no provision in the legislation for the amount of salary that an employer must pay. The level of remuneration an employee receives is a matter for the employee and their employer.


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