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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 102-110
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Exchequer Returns
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Staff Training
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Cistí Spreagtha Fáis

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 804 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 102-110

Departmental Legal Costs

 102. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton her views on whether sufficient progress is being made in reducing the State's legal bill in her Department and any State agencies under her aegis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25169/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The State’s legal bill in relation to the Department of Social Protection is comprised solely of costs associated with litigation. The legal costs of litigation are not managed by the Department. The Chief State Solicitors Office provides professional advice to the Department in relation to such costs. I am satisfied that the advice provided in relation to such matters is cognisant of the need to ensure that the State’s legal bill is no higher than necessary and that sufficient progress has been made in recent years in reducing the costs of litigation against the State generally.

  The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Board, the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman and the Social Welfare Tribunal.

Citizens Information Board

  The Citizens Information Board has a three year contract in place since 2011 for the provision of legal advice to the Board. The contract was put in place following a tendering process. The tendering process is used by the Board to procure legal services to ensure that it gets the most competitive rates. Appropriate governance and accountability procedures are in place in relation to expenditure by the Board on legal advice.

Pensions Board

  There are a number of measures in place to reduce legal outsourcing expenditure. The Board entered into a Legal Framework Agreement in 2012 with a number of legal firms for the provision of legal services to replace a prior framework agreement. The Board secured reductions in hourly rates under the Legal Framework Agreement 2012 to 2015. In addition, the Finance and Audit Committee exercise significant control over legal outsourcing budgets.

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

  The Pensions Ombudsman sources legal services from a panel which was established following a competitive tendering process. The panel is reviewed on an annual basis. The prices quoted by providers take account of the Financial Emergency Measures legislation and other negotiated discounts. Legal fees are monitored and reviewed on a continuous basis with the aim of providing value for money to the Exchequer. The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman is facing an unprecedented level of demand for its service with a 78% increase in new enquiries and a 24% increase in detailed investigation cases opened in 2012. The complexity of cases is increasing, and there is a tendency towards increased litigation. Legal costs are therefore a significant element of the overall costs of the Office and are monitored closely.

Social Welfare Tribunal

  The Social Welfare Tribunal does not incur expenditure in respect of legal fees.

Exchequer Returns

 103. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan what appropriations-in-aid spending will entail in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24861/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Appropriation-in-Aid receipts of approximately €4.525m are expected to be received by my Department and remitted to the Exchequer in 2013. More than three quarters of these receipts, over €3.5m, relate to contributions from civil and public sector employees as part of the Public Service Remuneration Pension-related Deduction (Pension Levy). A full break-out of my Department's projected 2013 Appropriation-in-Aid receipts is published in the 2013 Revised Estimates Volume which is available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website via the following link:http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/REVISED-ESTIMATES-VOLUME-2013-final.pdf.

Departmental Expenditure

 104. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he envisages his Department retaining €210,000 from the EU Presidency through to 2014; if so, if he has already allocated the money; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24862/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan All monies allocated to my Department for the E.U. Presidency will, I understand, be expended in the current year.

Departmental Staff Training

 105. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide a breakdown of the expected training and development and incidental expenses with a list of the training and development courses he expects officers in his Department to undergo in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24863/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I assume the Deputy is referring to a breakdown of the proposed Training & Development expenditure within the Training & Development and Incidental Expenses subhead. In this regard, my Department has a budget allocation of approximately €400,000 for staff training and development in 2013. My Department supports the training and development of staff through formal training and development courses, in-house training, attendance at relevant conferences and seminars, refund of academic fees, and the reimbursement of professional membership fees.   The training provided is key to the functioning of the Department and the welfare of staff. The formal training and development courses that staff members in my Department are expected to attend in 2013 include but are not limited to the following:

- Job-specific training i.e. Abseil Access, ArcGIS Geographic Information Mapping Software, Biodiversity Identification, Dangerous Trees Identification, Mountain Skills, Quad training, Raptor Poisoning, Rope Rescue Technician training;

- Business Process Improvement;

- Health and Safety related training i.e. Evac Chair, Fire Safety, Firearm Safety, Manual Handling, Occupational First Aid, Personal Survival Techniques, Safe Pass, Signing, Lighting and guarding at Roadworks, Crisis Prevention;

- Child Protection Guidance;

- Irish Language skills;

- Courtroom Skills;

- ICT training i.e. , Microsoft Office Applications, Microsoft Sharepoint, Website Content Management;

- Corporate, HR and Financial training i.e., Disability Awareness, Financial Management, Freedom of Information, Interview Board training, Management Development, Mediation, Procurement, Professional Services Withholding Tax, Report Writing, Workplace Investigation.

The list includes a number of in-house training courses and training courses run by other public bodies which accrue no direct cost to my Department. For those courses that are procured externally, the Training and Development Unit in my Department ensures that all procedures in relation to procurement are followed.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

 106. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will set out by category and in detail a breakdown of the €124,000 estimated to be spent on consultancy services and value-for-money and policy reviews in the 2013 Estimates, an increase of 164% on the Estimates spend in 2012, providing detail of the additional spend; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24864/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan A total of €138,000 was allocated for consultancy services, value for money and policy reviews in 2012. This subhead provides for fees and expenses in respect of consultancy assignments and other surveys and studies commissioned by my Department, which at present relate primarily to the Arts Division. In line with Government policy, my Department endeavoured to reduce the use of consultants as far as possible and succeeded in reducing the level of expenditure in 2012 to some €47,000.

The 2013 allocation of €124,000 for consultancy services, value for money and policy reviews represents a decrease of 10% when compared against the 2012 allocation of €138,000.

In order to allow my Department to be in a position to respond to issues as they arise during the course of the year, the €124,000 is not yet fully committed. My Department will continue to minimise expenditure under this heading as far as possible and, as with 2013, I expect that savings will again be achieved against this allocation.

Departmental Expenditure

 107. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan under the category of office premises expenses, if he will list the individual offices operated by his Department in the State alongside the expenses that they will incur in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24865/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I presume the Deputy is referring to the provision of €693,000 for Office Premises Expenses in my Department's Administration Budget as set out in the 2013 Revised Estimates for Public Services. This funding will be used to meet expenses such as heating, lighting, waste disposal, cleaning and water charges. These costs relate largely to my Department's main offices which are listed on my Department's website at http://www.ahg.gov.ie/en/ContactDetails/. It is too soon to anticipate the precise breakout of where precisely all such costs will be incurred in 2013 but it is unlikely that there will be any significant savings in 2013.

Departmental Expenditure

 108. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide a breakdown of the heritage spend by category of the €1.2 million estimated for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24866/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan An amount of €1.2m in capital funding on subhead B.5 Natural Heritage – National Parks and Wildlife Service was carried over into 2013 in accordance with the procedures governing unspent capital. The State has a particular responsibility to preserve active raised bog habitat under European Council Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) which requires Ireland to protect various species and habitats which are of European importance. In 2012, an allocation of €1.2m was set aside to fund surveys of raised bog Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) within the context of the development of a National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan and a Review of raised bog Natural Heritage Areas. These funds were not utilised in 2012 due to unforeseen delays in commencing the procurement process for the surveys. However, these surveys will have to be undertaken during 2013.

Departmental Expenditure

 109. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide a breakdown of the estimated expenditure on heritage for 2013 by product and programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24867/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan A breakout of my Department's provisions for expenditure under the Heritage Programme is published in the 2013 Revised Estimates Volume, which is available on the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform website via the following link: http://per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/REVISED-ESTIMATES-VOLUME-2013-final.pdf.

Cistí Spreagtha Fáis

 110. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan cé na tograí Gaeltachta agus Oileánda atá molta ag a Roinn don Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí maidir leis na Cistí Spreagtha Fáis atá á scrúdú ag an Aire sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [24891/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Tá mo Roinnse, ina dteannta siúd as earnálacha eile, ag breathnú ar thograí i gcomhair a mbreithnithe i láthair na huaire i gcomhairle leis an Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe. Níl aon chinneadh críochnaitheach tógtha go fóill.


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