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 Header Item National Debt (Continued)
 Header Item National Payments Plan Implementation
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Return to Writ: Dublin West
 Header Item Introduction of New Member

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 842 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan] The point is, whatever way we look at it, an education budget and a health budget are being spent on interest repayments, ultimately, to refund gamblers in the Irish banking system. This continues to be an outrage.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan More than two thirds of the Irish national debt is due to previous Governments running deficits. That is a fact. Less than one third is due to what Deputy Broughan deplores, that is, bust banks that had to be recapitalised and bailed out.

Deputy Broughan should not pretend that foreign bankers imposed this on us. Much of the burden of the debt was done domestically, over two thirds of it in fact. As we continue to run deficits - we will run one this year and next year - it increases the debt. As we increase the debt, it increases the amount of interest we have to pay. It is simple economics.

Finally, history will be a good deal kinder to the Tánaiste, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, than to Deputy Tommy Broughan when an assessment of this is made in future.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan We will see what the historians say.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The next question is in the name of Deputy Lucinda Creighton. Since Deputy Creighton is not here we will call Deputy Seán Kyne, who has tabled Question No. 11.

  Questions Nos. 10 and 41 replied to with Written Answers.

National Payments Plan Implementation

 11. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan to outline the steps being taken to prepare for e-day in September, after which Departments and public sector agencies will no longer issue or accept cheques; if this includes local authorities; and if measures are being implemented to ensure continued ease of payment, in particular for the public and small local businesses.  [16788/14]

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne What steps are being taken or have been put in place for e-day in September 2014 in respect of the use or issuing of cheques?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan From 19 September 2014, e-day, public sector bodies such as Departments, State agencies and local authorities will no longer issue cheques to or accept cheques from businesses. This is being implemented as part of the national payments plan for Ireland to help reduce cheque usage generally in an effort to tackle late payments, improve cashflow and reduce costs for Irish businesses. E-day only applies to businesses and not to the public at large. For example, it will not impact on social welfare cheques. It applies to all public bodies, including local authorities.

  The majority of affected public bodies already offer alternatives to cheques and by e-day they should all be offering some or all of the following payment options: electronic funds transfer, EFT, direct debit, whether single payment or recurring, credit card payments and debit card payments.

  On 22 May 2014 my Department issued a reminder to all Departments, Government offices, local authorities and State agencies that  e-day comes into effect on 19 September 2014. A press release was issued on 23 May 2014 and related documents are available on the Department's website.

  E-day was launched in September last year to give businesses and public sector bodies 12 months to prepare for the smooth transition to electronic payments. Cheque usage has halved in Ireland since 2005 but Irish businesses still write 33 million cheques every year. The particular focus of e-day is to encourage SMEs to migrate from cheque usage.

  The Department's reminder letter to Accounting Officers attached a guide produced by the programme office of the national payments plan setting out several payment options with pros and cons as they relate to the operations of State agencies. Accounting Officers were reminded that any exceptional cases should be kept to an absolute minimum, a timetable should be established for the elimination of exceptional cases and any residual exceptions for which a timetable cannot be established should be identified and reported to the Department of Finance. Accounting Officers were also encouraged to consider the needs of people with disabilities when deciding on what payment options are to be offered.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  The national payments plan notes that businesses and consumers will benefit when Ireland reduces its dependence on cheque and cash payments in favour of safer and more efficient electronic payments. Cheques are an expensive means of payment for businesses because of bank charges, stamp duty, postage, time spent making lodgements, unpaid cheques and the cheque-is-in-the-post culture of late payments. Businesses in most other EU countries have stopped using cheques. Businesses are advised to prepare for e-day by discussing payment solutions with the relevant contracting Government bodies and banks.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne There is concern among some small and medium-sized enterprises, sole traders, community organisations and groups that they may be at a disadvantage. I know this has been an issue. Is the Minister satisfied that enough has been done to make these groups aware?

I am aware that cheques as a method of payment are being removed in the long term in favour of new technology. When is this likely? What has been put in place to advise people of the change?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I welcome the fact that Deputy Kyne has raised the issue because September is not far away. Public attention needs to be drawn to the fact that e-day is coming. Although it does not apply to the public in general or to social welfare payments it will apply to all businesses and State agencies. There needs to be increased public awareness and I hope Deputy Kyne's question gets some publicity to this end.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 27A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Mick Wallace - the need to include architectural technologists on the construction professionals building regulations list; (2) Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan - the need for an update on issues relating to Magdalen laundry survivors; (3) Deputy Sean Fleming - the decision to no longer carry out school dental screenings in the midlands under the public dental service; (4) Deputies Noel Coonan and Joe McHugh - the delays in vehicle registration tax registration for motorhome vendors; (5) Deputy Billy Kelleher - the financial position of the Health Service Executive; (6) Deputy Clare Daly - the position regarding primary school places for children due to start school in September 2014 in Swords, County Dublin; (7) Deputy Dessie Ellis - the occupation of the Paris Bakery, Moore Street, Dublin 1 by staff; and (8) Deputy Michael McGrath - the locations where one-stop-shop Intreo offices are now open throughout the country.

The matters raised by Deputies Mick Wallace; Noel Coonan and Joe McHugh; Sean Fleming; and Dessie Ellis have been selected for discussion.

Business of Dáil

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Oral Questions to the Taoiseach shall not be taken today and that Leaders' Questions shall be followed by the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is that agreed?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does that apply to Leaders' Questions as well?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe No.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath They will be taken at 10 p.m. tonight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is that agreed? Agreed.

Return to Writ: Dublin West

Introduction of New Member

  The Clerk Assistant of the Dáil made the following announcement:

  I gcomhlíonadh Bhuan-Ordú 175 de na Buan-Orduithe i dtaobh Gnó Phoiblí, tá orm a chraoladh go ndearnadh, sa Chorrthoghchán a bhí ann an 23 Bealtaine, 2014, de chionn an Teachta Pádraig Mac an Ultaigh d’éirí as, an comhalta seo a leanas a thoghadh don Dáil:-

  In compliance with Standing Order 175 of the Standing Orders relative to Public Business, I have to announce that at the By-Election held on 23 May, 2014, consequent on the resignation of Deputy Patrick Nulty, the following Member has been elected to the Dáil:-

Dáilcheantar Bhaile Átha Cliath Thiar .. .. .. .. .. .. Ruth Choipingéir

Constituency of Dublin West .. .. .. .. .. .. Ruth Coppinger

Tá Rolla na gComhaltaí sínithe ag an Teachta de réir Bhuan-Ordú 1.

The Deputy has signed the Roll of Members in accordance with Standing Order 1.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett On this happy occasion I am sure I speak on behalf of all Members when I extend a warm welcome to Deputy Ruth Coppinger. I hope that your time here will be productive and happy. Today is a special occasion for you and your family and supporters, some of whom are present in the Gallery. They are also very welcome. I wish you well during your period here.

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