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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 51 - 70
 Header Item Universal Social Charge Exemptions
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Applications
 Header Item Ministerial Allowances
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Enterprise Ireland Expenditure
 Header Item Trade Agreements
 Header Item Ministerial Transport
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Forestry Grants
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Administration

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 858 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 51 - 70

Universal Social Charge Exemptions

 51. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare should be exempt from the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44505/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on the information available, the person concerned is exempt from the universal social charge (USC).

USC is currently being deducted from the named individual's pension.  An amended tax credit certificate will issue to the person concerned shortly. The pension provider will also receive an amended tax credit certificate exempting the pension from the charge. The USC paid to date will be refunded directly to the person concerned by the pension provider.

Tax Yield

 52. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the forecasted yield in capital acquisition tax revenue from proposed changes to section 82 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 for 2015 and 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44509/14]

 53. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the total number of persons who paid capital acquisition tax from 2011 to date in 2014; if he will itemise each asset class that capital acquisition tax was paid on for each year; if he will provide the total capital acquisition tax paid on inheritances for each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44510/14]

 54. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason the group threshold as defined in the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 was not increased to reflect rising house prices and the rise in the consumer purchase index in the previous year; his views on whether the lowering of the group threshold in budget 2013 was based on falling house prices; the reason the threshold has not been increased now that average house prices in Dublin have already exceeded the current threshold; the reason the group threshold is set at the lowest levels since 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44511/14]

 56. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the way an incapacitated person over the age of 25, who became permanently incapacitated after reaching the age of 21, but was not in full-time education or training for a trade or profession for a minimum of two years but receives financial support from their parents who had previously relied upon section 82 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 will be affected by the proposed changes to the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44539/14]

 57. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will instruct the Revenue Commissioners to publish the detailed public statement which they intend sending to practitioners, outlining the way the newly amended section 82 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 will work in practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44540/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 to 54, inclusive, 56 and 57 together.

  In relation to the first question, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that because Section 82 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 is an exemption provision, there is no requirement to include the amount of payments in respect of which exemption is taken in a return to the Revenue Commissioners. Accordingly, it is not possible to forecast what the capital acquisitions tax yield is likely to be from the proposed changes. In any event, the changes being proposed to section 82 in Finance Bill 2014 are not for the purpose of raising tax revenue but to counter abuse of the provision.

  In relation to the second question I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that information in relation to the number of persons who paid capital acquisitions tax each year is not directly available. However, the number of persons who filed capital acquisitions tax returns in the years 2011-2013 and to date in 2014 and who had a liability to capital acquisitions tax is as shown in the table.   

YearNumber
201111,129
201211,520
201311,595
2014 (To-date) 11,776 (Provisional)


  It is not possible to provide a breakdown of capital acquisitions tax by asset class as the capital acquisitions tax returns do not require a breakdown of the tax due by asset type and there is, therefore, no reliable basis for compiling this information.

  The total capital acquisitions tax paid on inheritances in each of the four years is as follows:
Year€ Million
2011213.5
2012254.3
2013257.5
2014 (To end October)146.8 (Provisional)


  As regards the third question, there are, in all, three separate Group thresholds based on the relationship of the beneficiary to the disponer.

The Group A tax free threshold of €225,000, applies where the beneficiary is a child (including adopted child, stepchild and certain foster children) or minor child of a deceased child of the disponer. Parents also fall within this threshold where they take an inheritance of an absolute interest from a child.

The Group B tax free threshold of €30,150, applies where the beneficiary is a brother, sister, a nephew, a niece or lineal ancestor or lineal descendant of the disponer.

The Group C tax free threshold €15,075, applies in all other cases.

  Where a person receives gifts or inheritances in excess of their relevant tax free threshold, CAT at a rate of 33% applies on the excess over the tax free threshold. These thresholds have been reduced in recent years in order to maintain the yield from capital taxes,  as part of the effort to restore the public finances, as taxes on capital are less harmful from an economic perspective than taxes on employment.

  The property market continues to improve with positive developments which had been restricted to the Dublin area now manifesting in other areas of the country though not to the same extent in terms of price rises. I recognize, of course, that there are supply issues in certain areas of the Dublin property market.

  The Group tax-free thresholds are kept under review, in the same way as other relevant tax provisions, and in this regard I will bear the Deputy's comments in mind for the future.

  In relation to the fourth question, CAT exemption for payments made by parents for the support or maintenance of dependent relatives (including children who are incapacitated by physical or mental infirmity) are dealt with separately under section 82 CATCA 2003 and this exemption applies provided the income of the dependent relative does not exceed approximately €13,800 per annum.  However, to ensure that all children, regardless of age and income level, who are permanently incapacitated by reason of physical or mental infirmity are exempt from tax under Section 82, I have tabled a Committee Stage amendment to the Finance Bill to provide specifically that payments for support, maintenance or education in relation to such incapacitated children will not be subject to an age restriction.

  In relation to the final question, it would not be appropriate for me to instruct the Revenue Commissioners in relation to what information they should publish, as they are independent in the exercise of their functions. However, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they will publish a detailed statement on the application of Section 82 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003, once the Finance Bill is enacted.

Tax Code

 55. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan how a person who is married with two children compares to a person who is cohabiting and has two children for tax purposes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44537/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The position is that where a couple is cohabiting, rather than married or in a civil partnership, they are treated as separate and unconnected individuals for the purposes of income tax.  Each partner is a separate entity for tax purposes and, therefore, cohabiting couples cannot file joint assessment tax returns or share their tax credits and tax bands in the same manner as married couples.

The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. Attorney General (1980), which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple, both of whom are working, to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income. 

However, a cohabiting couple where both partners are working get, in total, the same tax credits as a married couple or couple in a civil partnership (i.e. €3,300).  In addition, the same amount of income is subject to tax at the 20% rate (currently €32,800 each).  This equates to the €65,600 threshold in the case of a married couple or couple in a civil partnership.

However, married couples who have children can avail of the Home Carers Tax Credit worth €810 per annum, subject to meeting the qualifying conditions, which is not available to cohabitants.

If both cohabitants earn in excess of the standard rate band, then they both pay tax at 41% on any income in excess of €32,800.  This is identical to the treatment of married couples on the same income levels.

Furthermore, as a result of the changes introduced in the recent Budget, these thresholds will increase to €33,800 and €67,600, respectively. This means that where both cohabitants pay tax at the higher rate, an additional €2,000 of a cohabiting couple's income will be subject to income tax at 20% rather than at 40%, resulting in a potential increase in net take home pay of €400 per annum.

In relation to your specific query, a married one earner couple with two children, earning €1,261.28 per fortnight, who is availing of the Homer Carers Tax Credit will pay €136.58 per fortnight in income tax, USC and PRSI in 2015. In contrast, a cohabiting couple with a single income of the same amount, who also have two children, will pay €231.19 per fortnight next year.  These calculations are based on the assumption that the married couple are jointly assessed for income tax purposes.

  Questions Nos. 56 and 57 answered with Question No. 52.

Ministerial Transport

 58. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the ministerial transport costs for the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, for each Minister and Minister of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44890/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table.

  These ministerial transport costs do not include air travel or foreign travel.

  For 2010 the ministerial transport and the costs associated with this were provided for by the Department of Justice.   

Department of Finance2010201120122013
Ministerial Transport Costs€0€87,289.91€116,297.76€117,085.91

Flood Relief Schemes Applications

 59. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide an update on a funding application from Kildare County Council for flood alleviation works in respect of an area (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44442/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Kildare County Council submitted an application for funding for flood alleviation works at Ballymore Eustace under the Office of Public Works (OPW) Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. The application has been assessed and the OPW has this week sought further information in relation to it from the Council. When this information is received the OPW will be in a position to make a final decision on the application.

Ministerial Allowances

 60. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the postage allowance, including franking and postage paid, that Ministers and Ministers of State avail of towards constituency work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44473/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Deputies, including Ministers, are entitled to 625 pre-paid envelopes per month as set out in Regulation 8 of Statutory Instrument no. 184 of 2010 as amended by Statutory Instrument no 328 of 2011 and Statutory Instrument no 149 of 2013.

Ministerial Transport

 61. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the ministerial transport costs for the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, for each Minister and Minister of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44481/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In response to the Deputy's question the following tables outline the ministerial transport costs for my Department since its inception:

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Ministerial Costs   

-2011

2012

2013

Ministerial Travel & Subsistence8,799.0412,826.9812,656.51
Minister's Drivers Travel & Subsistence16,767.2324,171.0124,985.45
Driver Salary Costs46,208.0071,062.85 68,499.75
Total71,774.27108,060.84 106,141.71


  I understand that the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, will be contacting you directly with his response.

Enterprise Ireland Expenditure

 62. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 270 of 21 October 2014, if he will solicit the information as requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44466/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Further to Parliamentary Question No. 270 of 21 October 2014, my Office has received the information from Enterprise Ireland and I will provide this to the Deputy in the coming days.

Trade Agreements

 63. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 380 of 4 November 2014, the timeframe in which he expects the study commissioned by his Department to examine the economic and other impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership on Ireland to be completed; the basis on which the Irish Government is currently approaching the negotiations in the absence of the completion of such a study; if the study thus far completed has outlined potential negative consequences of TTIP for Ireland or his views around potential negative consequences of TTIP for Ireland; the terms of reference of the study, specifically the sectors which the study intends to examine; the cost of the study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44546/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The competence for the EU's common commercial policy lies with the European Union. The EU Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU on matters falling within the common commercial policy on the basis of specific mandates from the EU Council of Ministers. The mandate to negotiate with the United States on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was adopted by the EU Council of Ministers on 14 June, 2013. The text of the mandate is available on the EU Council’s website: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/145014.pdf.

  Under the terms of the mandate and in accordance with Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the EU Commission is required to conduct the negotiations in consultation with the Council and to regularly report to the Council. The EU Commission consults the member states through the EU Trade Policy Committee on all aspects of the negotiations. Officials from my Department represent Ireland on the relevant committees. To this end, my Department co-ordinates the views of all the relevant Departments, in line with the usual inter-departmental co-ordination procedure in developing the Irish position on other EU matters. I welcome all opportunities to discuss TTIP and to receive views of stakeholders. Furthermore, I was very pleased to have been invited within the last year to have exchanges with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs Enterprise and Innovation and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs from which I received a written political contribution.

  The purpose of the study commissioned by my Department is to examine the economic and other impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and related potential opportunities for Ireland. The focus of this study is to identify key areas and sectors of the economy that will be impacted by TTIP.

  As well as helping to inform our input to the European Union’s negotiating position, the study will help to inform the appropriate policy responses to be deployed to maximise the potential of this agreement and provide an assessment of the longer term implications for enterprise policy.

  The Conference on TTIP that I hosted in Dublin Castle on 20 June, to which Oireachtas members from relevant Joint Committees were invited, heard some preliminary findings from Copenhagen Economics that indicate a comprehensive trade and investment deal between the EU and the US could lead to a 1.1% increase in Irish GDP. Other preliminary findings included benefits for Ireland including increased exports (2.7%), increased real wages (1.4%) and increased investment (1.6%).

  I expect that Copenhagen Economics will complete its work in the next few months. The budgeted cost of the study is €215,000 (excluding VAT).

Ministerial Transport

 64. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the ministerial transport costs for the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, for each Minister and Minister of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44893/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I attach below for the Deputy’s information details of transport costs in respect of the Ministers and Ministers of State appointed to my Department for the years 2010 - 2013. The costs detailed below cover the salary and related remuneration costs paid to Ministers’ Drivers (inclusive of Employers PRSI, Public Holiday Pay and Extra Attendance Payments) and the mileage and subsistence costs of Ministers and their drivers.

  For the Deputy's information, my predecessor was provided with a Ministerial car and a Garda driver. The cost of the previous Ministerial transport scheme of Garda drivers and state cars were paid by the Department of Justice.

  I would point out that it was estimated in 2011 that the saving to be achieved in not supplying State cars to Cabinet Ministers was of the order of €4m per annum. These estimates were based on the average cost of each State car including the cost of Garda drivers at €280,000 per annum. In the case of Ministers using their own cars, including the cost of 2 civilian drivers, it was calculated that the cost was in the region of €120,000 per annum per Minister. Following a review in 2012 it was found that the cost of the new system was lower than calculated and is in the order of an average of €100,000 per annum. This represents a saving of 65% on the previous transport system in place prior to May 2011 and supports the view that in value for money terms, the new transport arrangements are more cost effective than the previous system.

Mr Batt O’Keeffe   T.D. Minister for Enterprise Trade and Innovation

 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2010€0.00€115.00€115.00
2011€0.00€115.80€115.80


Ms. Mary Coughlan   T.D. Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2010€0.00€0.00€0.00
2011€0.00€0.00€0.00


  Mr. Dara Calleary T.D. Minister for Labour Affairs
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2010€78,881.22€32,255.58€111,136.80
2011€28,037.43*€7912.66€35,950.09


  *Inclusive of Civilian Drivers Severance Payments

  Mr. Conor Lenihan T.D. Minister for Innovation Policy
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2010€84,658.34€22,206.54€106,864.88
2011€37,699.79*€4,690.65€42,390.44


  *Inclusive of Civilian Drivers Severance Payments

  Mr. Billy Kelleher T.D. Minister for Trade & Commerce
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2010€75,852.14€41,705.93€117,558.07
2011€44,339.54*€12,734.51€57,074.05


  *Inclusive of Civilian Drivers Severance Payments

  Mr. John Perry T.D. Minister for Small Business
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2011€54,721.44€35,124.20€89,845.64
2012€79,462.62€45,397.20€124,859.82
2013€77,558.38€45,182.72€122,741.10


  Mr. Seán Sherlock T.D. Minister for Research & Innovation
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2011€52,677.91€23,568.71€76,246.62
2012€76,832.88€33,080.93€109,913.81
2013€78,439.09€33,222.23€111,661.32


  Mr. Richard Bruton T.D. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation
 Drivers Salary and related remuneration CostsMileage and SubsistenceTotal
2011€48,449.14€6,084.31€54,533.45
2012€76,628.17€7,023.22€83,651.39
2013€79,264.69€6,182.51€85,447.20

Departmental Schemes

 65. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide in tabular form since 2008 the total amounts drawn down by Ireland for the school milk scheme and the school fruit scheme; the number of schools and pupils which benefit from the scheme per county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44547/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The School Milk Scheme (SMS) was introduced in 1977, and over 20 million EU children benefited from it in 2011/2012, an 18% jump compared with 2010/2011. The SMS has operated in Ireland since 1982 with the objective of promoting and encouraging the consumption of milk among school children. Its management is primarily through the National Dairy Council (NDC) in conjunction with the co-ops, but take-up is quite limited on a geographical level. The Scheme provides for the payment of aid for milk products to school pupils and is co-financed by the EU and the MS, with my Department being the responsible Department in Ireland. The aid rates were reduced by approximately 7% per annum from 2004 to 2007 in line with the general reductions in support prices brought about by the 2003 Mid Term Review of the CAP. However, the Exchequer has made up for this reduction in the EU contribution, and the overall aid rates have been maintained at €27.89/100kg. Since 2007 the EU contribution is €18.15/100kg, with the balance of €9.74/100kg made up by the Exchequer.   

  In terms of some of the figures requested by the Deputy, the table below sets out some of the key aggregates. I will also undertake to forward some more detailed breakdowns in terms of the scheme coverage per county in tabular format.

School Year
Number of Participating Schools
Estimated number of pupils
Money drawn down by Ireland
2008-2009
1271
66,990
€553,509
2009-2010
1241
59,539
€491,940
2010-2011
1133
56,040
€463,035
2011-2012
1090
56,323
€465,369
2012-2013
1075
53,259
€440,050
2013-2014
1052
50,484
€417,121


  The EU School Fruit Scheme commenced in 2009 and is run by Bord Bia as part of the Food Dudes programme to develop a taste for fruit and vegetables among primary schoolchildren. All operational matters including details of schools, numbers of pupils and locations, come under their operational remit. An annual Strategy document is submitted by my Department to the EU Commission setting out planned total target figures for schools/pupils in the coming school year. To date, these have been as follows:
School Year
Number of Participating Schools
Estimated number of pupils
Money drawn down by Ireland
2009-2010
383
54,000
€475,422
2010-2011
385
59,500
€509,095
2011-2012
390
58,000
€510,665
2012-2013
390
61,000
€430,388
2013-2014
385
70,455
€371,301
2014-2015
884
141,359
 


  The national rollout of the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme/Food Dudes will be completed this year and the increased numbers planned for 2014-2015 reflect a new boost programme developed to enable the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme/Food Dudes to reach more primary schools annually.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 66. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if farmers who have completed relevant courses in Northern Ireland, achieving agricultural qualifications, will have these qualifications recognised automatically on a like for like basis when applying for the various schemes and tax breaks that require agricultural qualifications in this jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44407/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Taxation policy is primarily a matter for the Minister for Finance. However I have on-going contact with Minister Noonan to ensure that tax policy reflects the Government’s commitment to agriculture. Currently young farmers can avail of an enhanced income tax relief measure for 100% stock relief and a stamp duty relief on land transfers if they meet certain criteria, which include minimum agricultural qualifications levels. The recent Agri-taxation Review recommended that selected other tax measures should also be linked to qualifications. I am working closely with the Minister for Finance to ensure that this is reflected in the measures being introduced in the Finance Bill currently before the Oireachtas.

The eligible qualifications are published as part of the relevant legislation that provides for these measures and only include qualifications awarded within the State. However, while Northern Ireland agricultural qualifications are not specifically included in the relevant tax legislation, this does not preclude farmers with those qualifications from qualifying for these tax reliefs. Provided that Teagasc certify that a qualification is equivalent to those published, those farmers can avail of the tax measure.

The new investment schemes under the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 will provide for higher grant rates for certain qualified young farmers. The new direct payment scheme (the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015) will include a 25% top-up grant for qualified young farmers. Again, provided that Teagasc certify that a qualification is deemed equivalent to those eligible for the higher rates, those farmers can avail of these higher payments.

Forestry Grants

 67. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when farmers who have applied for forestry grants and were awaiting assessment of the possible effects of afforestation on the hen harrier habitats will be issued with a decision on their applications; the reason for the delay in this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44408/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is currently developing a Threat Response Plan (TRP) for Hen Harrier, which is one of Ireland's rarest species of bird, and which is protected at a European level under the EU Birds Directive. As part of this process, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has established an inter-Departmental Steering Group, incorporating representatives from key Departments, to assist in the development of the Plan. The TRP is examining the impacts of various activities including forest development, agricultural intensification and wind farm development on the conservation of the species. I understand that the TRP will set out necessary measures for implementation within each of the three sectors to protect and conserve Hen Harrier and in doing so will bring clarity to farmers and other landowners about future land management activities, including afforestation, within the SPAs.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 68. Deputy Dinny McGinley Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when payment of single farm and disadvantaged areas grant will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44419/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted a 2014 Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas’ scheme application on 9 May 2014. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases Remote Sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue. The EU Regulations also require that where it is not possible to make an accurate determination on the eligibility of a parcel or parcels of land by means of an assessment of the available satellite imagery, a field inspection must be undertaken to verify the eligibility of the land.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing inspection. Initial processing of this inspection identified a requirement to verify the eligibility of land declared by means of a field inspection.

On completion of this inspection the results will be finalised with the intention of issuing any payment due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 69. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a single farm payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44421/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2014 Single Farm Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 7 May 2014. During processing of this application a dual claim error arose where two of the parcels declared by the person named are also being claimed by another applicant under the Single Payment Scheme. An official from my Department will be in contact with the person named to clarify the situation. The file will then be reviewed and an early decision taken in relation to the dual claim, taking account of the evidence submitted by both parties. Any payments due will then issue subject to compliance with the Terms & Conditions of the Single Payment Scheme.

Agriculture Scheme Administration

 70. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if there is a compensation scheme available in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork who lost cattle due to electrocution. [44437/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The situation in which this farmer finds himself is extremely unfortunate. However, there is no specific compensation scheme in place for farmers who suffer casualties in their herd due to electric storms or other unforeseen events.  It is not possible, regrettably, to introduce a compensation scheme to cover all unforeseen events. I would, therefore, urge all farmers to familiarise themselves with insurance to cover all risk management issues such as electrical storms, injury, theft, other weather related disasters and animal diseases and to ensure that they are adequately covered.


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