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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 243-257
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Status
 Header Item Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Issues
 Header Item Shared Ownership Scheme
 Header Item Rural Development Programme Funding
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Rural Development Programme Funding
 Header Item European Disability Strategy
 Header Item Closed Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Anti-Social Behaviour
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Owners Management Companies

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 817 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 243-257

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

 243. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding progress on the six selected pilot waste water treatment schemes; the timeframe for the review of these schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43544/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I assume the question refers to pilot group sewerage schemes. Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, which includes group sewerage schemes, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997.

In December 2012, I announced an increase in the grant for group sewerage schemes to €6,500 per house or 75% of the cost of the scheme, whichever is the lesser. The previous rate of grant available was €2,031.58 per house or 75% of the cost, whichever was the lesser.

I propose, in the first instance, to carry out a number of pilot schemes based on the increased grant level. My Department asked local authorities to include in their requests for funding under the 2013 Rural Water Programme proposals for pilot group sewerage schemes which might be viable based on the increased grant.

Following an examination of the proposals received, with particular regard to the environmental justification provided and the estimated costs, I have approved grant assistance towards pilot schemes in nine different counties.

Progress on the selected pilot schemes will be reviewed in due course with a view to deciding how best to proceed with the grant scheme.

Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas

 244. Deputy Charles Flanagan Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide an update on the work of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43545/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Coveney, and I launched the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) in October 2012. The aim of the Commission was to carry out an extensive public consultation and research exercise on the future economic potential of rural Ireland and how best to channel funding and resources between 2013 and 2025. The most significant element of the Commission’s work was the extensive consultation process, conducted between January and June of 2013, and consisting of three different elements, a series of public meetings, meetings with relevant stakeholders and experts and a written submission process that involved the completion of an online questionnaire and/or written submissions.

Pat Spillane the Chair of the Commission, has briefed me on the general themes that are emerging from the work of CEDRA and noted that the commitment to the development of a strong rural economy was clearly evident throughout the Commission consultation process, particularly at community level. The process has identified a diverse and complex series of issues and challenges that the Commission considers should be addressed to support the future economic development of rural Ireland. The final recommendations of CEDRA will be framed in that context

The Commission is now in the final stages of report preparation and I expect to receive the draft report shortly.

Public Sector Staff Issues

 245. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will outline the statutory right for time off of semi State employees attending local authority meetings if they are elected councillors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43567/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I have no function in this matter.

  The terms of employment of a public servant or a semi-state employee are a matter between the individual concerned and his/her employer in consultation where required by law or public policy with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and where appropriate, the Government Department with specific sectoral responsibilities.

  The local government legislative code does not provide for time off from their employment for any person elected as a member of a local authority.

Shared Ownership Scheme

 246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the action taken to date to address the outstanding issues in respect of existing shared ownership loans and mortgages with particular reference to the extent to which the rental part of mortgage repayments has dramatically escalated with resultant hardship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43629/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Government’s 2011 housing policy statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act. That review is available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie and the period for public submissions closed on 27 September 2013.

Earlier in 2013, I asked the Housing & Sustainable Communities Agency to conduct a standalone review of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures. I have received an interim draft of the review from the Agency and I intend to issue a circular letter to local authorities this month with preliminary recommendations arising from the review.

A number of issues have been identified that need further detailed financial analysis in order fully to assess the impact on local authority finances of possible mitigating measures. This additional work is underway and I expect to be in a position to address other aspects of the matter in the coming months.

Rural Development Programme Funding

 247. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of projects over €150,000 in value, awaiting approval, broken down by integrated company, value and the date received, the reason for the delay in approving these projects; if consideration has been given to raising the threshold for ministerial approval from €150,000 to €250,000; if not the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [43630/13]

 249. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of Leader projects of more than €150,000 value that are awaiting ministerial approval; the date each project was submitted; the value of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43636/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 249 together.

  Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 was agreed with the European Commission in February 2007 and stipulates that all projects in excess of €150,000 require prior approval from my Department. These projects are regarded as potentially higher risk to the fund due to their high value. I have no plans, therefore, to increase the threshold beyond €150,000.

  Experience to date has shown that around 80% of the projects submitted to my Department do not have all the necessary information on file and in some cases have significant levels of deficiencies regarding and compliance with, EU Regulations including in relation to eligibility. Examining the projects is therefore time consuming.

  Currently, 45 projects are at various stages of assessment, as set out in the table below.

LAG Date Received Grant aid requested Stage
Mayo North East LEADER Partnership 15/07/2011 €196,387 Rejected pending further information
Mayo North East LEADER Partnership 01/10/2011 €180,000 Rejected pending further information
South West Mayo Development Co 24/01/2012 €196,911 Rejected pending further information
FORUM Connemara Ltd 23/08/2012 €431,888 Rejected pending further information
Mayo North East LEADER Partnership 03/10/2012 €194,726 Rejected pending further information
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership South and East Cork Area Dev Ltd. 05/11/2012 28/11/2012 €428,869 €500,000 Rejected pending further information Rejected pending further information
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership 04/12/2012 €300,000 Rejected pending further information
South Kerry Development Ltd. 21/12/2012 €500,000 Rejected pending further information
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership 16/01/2013 €268,125 Rejected pending further information
Clare Local Development Company Ltd. 18/01/2013 €200,000 Rejected pending further information
North Tipperary LEADER Partnership 18/01/2013 €199,994 Further Info Received
FORUM Connemara Ltd. 11/02/2013 €324,766 Rejected pending further information
West Limerick Resources Ltd 26/02/2013 €200,000 Further Info Received
Roscommon Integrated Development Co 27/02/2013 €196,925 Rejected pending further information
Waterford LEADER Partnership Ltd. 01/03/2013 €183,310 Further Info Received
South and East Cork Area Dev Ltd. 13/03/2013 €330,000 Rejected pending further information
Waterford LEADER Partnership Ltd. 10/04/2013 €200,000 Under Assessment
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership 03/05/2013 €169,238 Rejected pending further information
Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta 07/06/2013 €200,000 Further Info Received
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership 26/06/2013 €200,000 Rejected pending further information
Louth LEADER Partnership 26/06/2013 €200,000 Under Assessment
Louth LEADER Partnership 26/06/2013 €200,000 Under Assessment
South West Mayo Development Co 26/06/2013 €200,000 Further Info Received
Roscommon Integrated Development Co 28/06/2013 €200,000 Further Info Received
South West Mayo Development Co 03/07/2013 €201,970 Further Info Received
FORUM Connemara Ltd. 04/07/2013 €500,000 Rejected pending further information
Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta 08/07/2013 €172,728 Further Info Received
FORUM Connemara Ltd. 10/07/2013 €200,000 Under Assessment
Laois Community and Enterprise Dev 16/07/2013 €198,426 Rejected pending further information
Co Wicklow Community Partnership 23/07/2013 €217,046 Rejected pending further information
Laois Community and Enterprise Dev 23/07/2013 €198,426 Rejected pending further information
Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo 31/07/2013 €500,000 Rejected pending further information
Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo 31/07/2013 €500,000 Rejected pending further information
Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo 06/08/2013 €470,000 Further Info Received
Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo 12/08/2013 €356,250 Under Assessment
Roscommon Integrated Development Co 12/08/2013 €179,885 Rejected pending further information
Fingal LEADER Partnership Co. 14/08/2013 €197,818 Under Assessment
Longford Community Resources Ltd. 19/08/2013 €200,000 Rejected pending further information
Ballyhoura Development Ltd 21/08/2013 €200,000 Further Info Received
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership 28/08/2013 €375,000 Under Assessment
Ballyhoura Development Ltd 29/08/2013 €400,000 Under Assessment
Waterford LEADER Partnership Ltd. 30/08/2013 €183,842 Rejected pending further information
Fingal LEADER Partnership Co. 01/09/2013 €178,570 Under Assessment
Co Wicklow Community Partnership 13/09/2013 €438,312 Rejected pending further information

Property Taxation Administration

 248. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if a house has to be habitable to make it liable for the local property tax; the difference in the law regarding this matter between the LPT and the non-principal private residence, under which non habitable houses were exempt from the NPPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43635/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Queries concerning Local Property Tax liability are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing a charge on non-principal private residences. The Non Principal Private Residence Charge is set at €200 and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties. The Charge operates on a self-assessment basis.

The 2009 Act places the Charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation may be a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately may be a matter for the Courts.

Under the 2009 Act “residential property” is defined as a “building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling.” There are a number of indicators as to what makes a property suitable for occupation for the purposes of determining liability to the Charge. The indicators include the structure of the property, whether or not it has a roof, whether or not it is so affected by dampness as to render it unsuitable for habitation, and whether or not it has sanitary facilities, including a water closet and water supply. A property that is not suitable for occupation should not be regarded as a residential property within the meaning of the 2009 Act and would not therefore be liable for the Charge.

2013 is the final year of the operation of the Non Principal Private Residence Charge. Since its introduction in 2009, the Charge has been an important source of revenue for local authorities and has funded the provision of vital local services.

  Question No. 249 answered with Question No. 247.

Rural Development Programme Funding

 250. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the latest date for approval of projects under the current Leader programme and the latest date for the completion of projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43638/13]

 251. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will allow committals under the Leader programme in excess of the project funding available, in view of the fact that not all projects given approval will have made full draw-down by the end of the programme in 2015; if he will ensure that all EU funding under the programme is drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43639/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 and 251 together.

My Department is monitoring the situation carefully regarding expenditure and approvals under the Programme. I will examine all unallocated funding in early November with a view to reallocating funding to other qualifying projects.

The European Commission recently allowed commitments under the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 to continue to made into 2014 and 2 015 subject to some conditions. I have no plans, however, to allow commitments to be made beyond the end of December 2013 at this point. My Department will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that there is full commitment and drawdown by the end of 2015.

Local Development Companies’ (LDC) contracts for the delivery of the Programme expire during the period 30 September - 31 December 2014. Project promoter’s contracts must expire three months in advance of the expiry date of the relevant LDC contract to allow for adequate time to complete the payment process for the project.

European Disability Strategy

 252. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason Ireland is not taking part in a European Commission's pilot project proposal for an EU wide disability card while 12 other European countries are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42989/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As part of the actions for 2010-2015 of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, the European Commission is examining the implications of a mutual recognition of disability cards and related entitlements.

Based on the findings of a study on 'Disability Benefits and Entitlements in European Countries' of the European Network of European Experts in Disability and a study conducted by the European Disability Forum, the Commission has been promoting an exchange of information between Member States and within the High-Level Group on Disability, most recently on 24 and 25 April 2013.

The development of a mutually recognised EU disability card is one of the actions put forward by the Commission in its EU Citizenship report 2013. The EU-model disability card scheme could be based on the following principles: a common model for all participating countries; reciprocity; mutual recognition; active engagement of the national issuing organisations and self-sustainability. The scope of the card is likely to be in the areas of culture, leisure, sport, transport and tourism, where benefits can be granted upon the presentation of the card.

The level of interest of the EU Member States has been sufficient for the Commission to initiate a project working group where representatives of interested Member States and civil society will deal with practical details of issuing and managing a multinational card. Ireland is seeking clarification on the scope and Terms of Reference of this project working group and possible membership will be considered on that basis. The next meeting of the High-Level Group on Disability will be held on 23 and 24 October 2013.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

 253. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if further funding will be made available to Granard Town Council for CCTV projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43106/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Community-based CCTV Scheme was launched in 2005 to provide financial assistance towards the capital costs of establishing a Community CCTV system. To date, two major rounds of the Scheme have been advertised, in 2005/2006 and 2007, seeking applications from interested community groups.

Funding provided under the previous rounds of the Community CCTV Scheme has been fully allocated and at present there are no proposals to further extend the Scheme. However, the matter will continue to be kept under ongoing review in the context of overall policy considerations and the availability of resources.

Northern Ireland Issues

 254. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has decided on the possibility of a cross-Border public inquiry on foot of the report submitted to him by the Omagh victim support group and the decision by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers, to deny that inquiry; when he made that decision and, if it was done prior to the announcement by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, the reason he has not communicated this decision to the Omagh victim support group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42994/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, I met with the Omagh Support and Self Help Group last year and received a copy of a document which they have compiled on events surrounding the terrorist atrocity at Omagh. I am currently in the process of finalising a detailed and consideration of the issues raised in that document. I will conclude this process soon and once a conclusion has been reached I will communicate directly with the Omagh Group.

Anti-Social Behaviour

 255. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will consider, in conjunction with the Department for Social Protection, to deduct anti-social behaviour order fines directly from social welfare payments.  [43002/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, a major reform of the fines system, including in relation to the type of fine referred to by the Deputy, is provided for in the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013 which was published on 19 July last and recently passed second stage in the Dáil.

  The Bill does not provide for the recovery of fines by the attachment of social welfare payments. However, it does provide for the imposition of community service orders where a person fails to pay a fine and the court is of the view that it would not be appropriate to make either an attachment order or a recovery order.

The Bill also provides for an enhanced instalment payment regime which will allow everyone on whom a fine is imposed to pay the fine by instalments over 12 months.

Garda Deployment

 256. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when will he be appointing a replacement superintendent in Granard, County Longford.  [43007/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is already aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. I understand from the Commissioner that a Superintendent has recently been appointed to the Granard District and will take up duty there in the near future.

Owners Management Companies

 257. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will review a case (details supplied) that relates to the management of a housing estate in County Donegal; if he will identify a pathway forward for the residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43014/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment on individual cases. In general, I can say that the primary purpose of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 is to reform the law relating to the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and to facilitate the fair, efficient and effective management of owners' management companies (OMCs). These are the companies which are established for the management of such areas, the membership and directors of which comprise the owners of residential units within the development. Such companies are generally subject to the provisions of the Companies Acts and their articles of association.

Section 30 of the 2011 Act addresses the problems which arise when an OMC is struck off the Companies Register for non-compliance with statutory reporting requirements. Under company law, a company that has been struck off has a period of one year within which to provide the Registrar with the relevant information and accounts. Thereafter application for restoration must be made in the High Court. However, section 30 provides that the period of one year is extended to 6 years in the case of OMCs. When restored to the Register, it shall be deemed to have continued in existence as if it had never been struck off. Each application for restoration must be accompanied by a certificate from a solicitor or accountant to the effect that the OMC is operating in that capacity.


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