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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 108-125
 Header Item Coistí Rialtais
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements
 Header Item Economic Policy
 Header Item Naval Service
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Training
 Header Item State Visits
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Departmental Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Emigrant Support Services
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item North-South Implementation Bodies
 Header Item Brexit Issues

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 108-125

Coistí Rialtais

 108. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín den Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar cá mhéad uair a tháinig an Coiste Rialtais ar an nGaeilge agus ar an nGaeltacht le chéile gach bliain le trí bliana anuas; an bhfuil sé fós ina Chathaoirleach ar an gCoiste sin; agus cá mhéad uair a d’fhreastail sé ar chruinnithe coiste ó toghadh ina Thaoiseach é. [42157/18]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Pléann Coiste Comh-Aireachta B le réimsí Beartas Sóisialta agus Athchóiriú na Seirbhíse Poiblí lena n-áirítear oideachas, leanaí, ionchuimsiú sóisialta, an Ghaeilge, na healaíona agus cultúr agus feabhsú leanúnach ar sheirbhísí poiblí agus athchóiriú seirbhísí poiblí.

  I mí Iúil 2017 a bunaíodh an Coiste. Tháinig an Coiste le chéile faoi dhó sa bhliain 2017 (11 Meán Fómhair agus 16 Samhain); agus faoi dhó go dtí seo sa bhliain 2018 (26 Márta agus 7 Meitheamh).

  Sular bunaíodh Coiste Comh-Aireachta B -

- tháinig Coiste Comh-Aireachta ar na hEalaíona, an Ghaeilge, an Ghaeltacht agus na hOileáin le chéile an 13 Deireadh Fómhair, 2016 agus faoi dhó ina dhiaidh sin an 27 Feabhra, 2017 agus an 25 Bealtaine, 2017; agus roimhe sin,

- tháinig Coiste Comh-Aireachta ar an nGaeilge agus an Ghaeltacht le chéile an 30 Márta, 2015.

  Ba é an Taoiseach a bhí ina chathaoirleach ar na cruinnithe Coiste Comh-Aireachta dá dtagraítear.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 109. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of staff in his Department and in bodies under his aegis appointed to the principal officer grade arising from internal competitions since 7 July 2015, by year. [41869/18]

 110. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons appointed from the panels arising from the 2015 open competition for principal officer and the 2017 open competition for principal officer run by the Public Appointments Service; the number appointed from the principal officer, higher, interdepartmental competition by year; and if a table (details supplied) will be completed. [41870/18]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 110 together.

  Six appointments have been made to the Principal Officer grade within my Department since 7 July 2015 arising from internal or open competitions. Of these, four arose from internal competitions, one from the 2015 Principal Officer open competition and one from the 2017 Principal Officer open competition run by the Public Appointments Service. My Department also recruits staff using mobility initiatives such as secondments. There have been no appointments made to the Principal Officer (Higher) from interdepartmental competitions. Details of the appointments are set out in the following table.

Department of the Taoiseach 2015 2016 2017 2018
Principal Officer appointments arising from internal competitions since 7/7/15 2 1 1 0
Principal Officer appointments arising from 2015 PO Open run by PAS (Campaign ID: 1512210 ) (Effective 7/7/15) 0 0 1 0
Principal Officer appointments arising from 2017 PO Open run by PAS(Campaign ID: 17101202) (Effective 23/11/17) 0 0 0 1
Principal Officer (Higher) appointments arising from DPER Circular 13/2017 0 0 0 0


Since 7 July 2015, there have been no appointments to the Principal Officer grade arising from internal competitions in the National Economic and Social Development Office - the only body under the aegis of my Department.

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

 111. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he met or held meetings with persons (details supplied) or persons representing or advising a consortium in 2017 and to date in 2018; if so, the topics they discussed; and if he will publish minutes of the meetings. [41941/18]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As I stated in the House on the 11th October 2018, I was invited by Science Foundation Ireland to present Mr. David McCourt with the Science Foundation Ireland St. Patrick's Day Medal at a public event held in Washington DC in March 2018. This was reported in the media at the time. We did not discuss the national broadband programme.

I have had no other meeting or discussion with Mr McCourt or other representatives of any consortium or company, or their advisors, regarding the National Broadband Plan.

Economic Policy

 112. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on the economic division of his Department. [41814/18]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Economic Division in my Department supports me and the Government in developing and implementing policy:

- to deliver sustainable and regionally balanced economic growth and quality jobs, and

- to promote effective planning and delivery of infrastructural developments, including housing.

  The Cabinet Committees and associated Senior Officials Groups supported by the Division help to deliver policies in these areas.

  Cabinet Committee A deals with issues relating to the Economy, the Labour Market, Competitiveness, Productivity, rural development, the Digital Economy and Pensions.

  Cabinet Committee D works to ensure a coordinated approach to the delivery and ongoing development of policy across the areas of infrastructure investment and delivery, housing, and climate action and provides political oversight in relation to Project Ireland 2040.

  The Economic Division also:

  - Monitors implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs;

  - Leads Ireland's participation in the annual European Semester process;

  - Prepares the annual National Risk Assessment which provides an opportunity to identify and consider potential economic risks and challenges on a structured basis; the 2018 report was published in July, and the 2019 National Risk Assessment process will commence shortly, and

  - Is responsible for liaison with the Central Statistics Office.

  The Division is also leading the preparation of Future Jobs in partnership with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. This is the Government's new economic initiative to ensure we are well placed to meet future challenges facing the Irish economy. Future Jobs will drive our development as a resilient, innovative, and globally connected economy, capable of coping with technological and other transformational changes ahead. It is aimed at enhancing productivity; labour market participation; innovation; skills and talent; and the low carbon economy and will be launched in early 2019.

  A unit within the Economic Division also supports the Minister of State with responsibility for Data Protection and works to ensure a ‘whole of Government’ approach to data protection and broader digital issues. In this regard, the unit provides the secretariat to the Inter-Departmental Committee on Data Issues and to the Government Data Forum.

  The unit is currently leading work on the development of a new overarching National Digital Strategy to enable Ireland to maximise the societal and economic benefits that arise from ongoing digitalisation and its transformative effects.

  The Division also provides me with briefing and speech material on economic and related policy issues.

  Given its role, the Division works closely with colleagues in the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, and in other Departments, which have lead responsibility for specific policy areas.

Naval Service

 113. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the progress of the investigation into the issuing of a directive on 3 October 2018 informing members of the Naval Service that the 72 hour notice period for members going to sea was being scrapped; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41769/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The military authorities have advised me that an email which indicated a change in the 72 hour notice period for members going to sea was issued in error and without the approval of the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS). The email was rescinded on the same day.

  I am further advised that the FOCNS is satisfied that this matter does not require any further investigation.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 114. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of staff in his Department and bodies under his aegis appointed to principal officer arising from internal competitions since 7 July 2015, by year. [41842/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The number of appointments made by my Department following internal competitions to the position of Principal in the period since 7 July 2015 are as follows:

2015 (from 7 July) 2016 2017 2018
0 1 1 0

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 115. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons appointed from the panels arising from the 2015 open competition and the 2017 open competition for principal officer run by the Public Appointments Service, by year; if a table (details supplied) will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41855/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The number of persons appointed to the Department of Defence from panels arising from the 2015 open competition and 2017 open competition for Principal run by the Public Appointments Service are as follows:

2015 2017
1 1


  In addition to open competitions, my Department also recruits through the civil service mobility scheme for Principals in order to ensure an appropriate mix of skills and experience among its senior management.

Ministerial Meetings

 116. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when he last met the head of the Defence Forces. [41071/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe A range of powers and responsibilities were delegated to me as Minister with Responsibility for Defence by the Defence (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2017, made on 5 July 2017 under s. 2(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1977. In that role, I frequently meet with the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and receive regular briefings in relation to a wide range of defence matters. I last met with the Chief of Staff on 11 October 2018.

The Taoiseach is briefed as required on defence issues.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 117. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and dentists in the Defence Forces medical corps; the number of vacancies in these areas in the medical corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42465/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The information requested by the Deputy is as outlined in the following table.

  Strength Vacancies
Medical Officers 20 3
Dental Officers 4 3
Nurses 6 0
Physiotherapists 5.5 0
  

  An additional four Medical Officers are currently seconded as part of the Military Medicine Training Scheme which was launched by the Defence Forces in 2017. Military Medicine as a specialist discipline was formally recognised by the Irish Medical Council in 2015.

Defence Forces Training

 118. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the status of progress on the plans for an institute for peace support and leadership training at the Curragh; when the feasibility study under way is due to be received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42529/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The White Paper on Defence includes a commitment to evaluate the potential development of a new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training at the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh. The current Programme for a Partnership Government also includes a commitment to develop this Institute. It is foreseen that the new Institute would have international standing and contribute to the overall development of knowledge and experience in the areas of peace support, leadership and conflict resolution.

Scoping work was carried out on the proposal throughout 2016. A concept paper was developed and some initial consultations took place with national and international third level and research institutes, as well as potential philanthropic contributors. Arising from this, it was decided to conduct a formal feasibility study. Following a tender process in 2017, a contract was awarded to a consultancy body to complete this study. Work on the study commenced in January 2018 and an interim report is expected to be finalised shortly. This interim report will inform the next steps to be taken.

State Visits

 119. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he or his officials have received confirmation as to whether President Trump will visit Ireland in the near future. [41073/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It was announced on Friday 31 August by the White House that the US President proposed to visit Ireland in November – this visit has since been postponed, with the US Administration citing scheduling reasons.

  At the present time, the Government has received no confirmation from the US Administration about future plans for the US President to visit Ireland.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 120. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of staff in his Department and in bodies under his aegis appointed to principal officer or counsellor grade arising from internal competitions since 7 July 2015, by year. [41863/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The number of staff in my Department appointed to Principal Officer and Counsellor grade arising from internal competitions since 7 July 2015 are as detailed in the following table.

  2015 2016 2017 2018
Counsellor 11 6 12 1
Principal Officer 0 0 1 0

Departmental Staff Recruitment

 121. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of persons appointed from the panels arising from the 2015 open competition and the 2017 open competition for principal officer and counsellor run by the Public Appointments Service by year; and if a table (details supplied) will be completed. [41864/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The following table details the number of persons appointed from the relevant panels in my Department as requested.

  I would like to bring to the attention of the Deputy that there was no Counsellor element in the 2015 Open Principal Officer competition (Campaign ID 1512210) from which to assign candidates for that role in my Department.

  My Department continues to assign candidates to the role of Counsellor from the 2017 Open Principal Officer Competition (Campaign ID 17101202) which came into effect from 23/11/2017.

  I would also like to note that my Department assigned one Principal Officer from the Senior Human Resources Management Opportunities Panel (Campaign ID 17185009) in 2018.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2015 2016 2017 2018
No. of Principal Officer & Counsellor appointments arising from internal competitions since 7/7/15 11 6 13 1
No. of Principal Officer appointments arising from 2015 PO Open Competition run by PAS (Campaign ID: 1512210)

(Effective 7/7/15)
0 1 0 n/a
Counsellor Assignments n/a n/a n/a n/a
No. of Principal Officer & Counsellor appointments arising from 2017 PO Open Competition run by PAS(Campaign ID: 17101202)

(Effective 23/11/17)
n/a n/a 1 6

Emigrant Support Services

 122. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has contacted his Australian counterpart to discuss the recent statistics of over 600 Irish citizens being asked to leave Australia due to invalid visas and other reasons; his views on this information; if there is a campaign planned by the Irish Embassy in Australia to inform Irish citizens of their obligations in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41949/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Embassy of Ireland in Canberra, as well as the Consulate General in Sydney, work very closely with the Irish community in Australia to ensure that Irish citizens have access to suitable practical and consular support.

Through the Emigrant Support Programme the government provides funding to four groups in Australia that offer support and advice to Irish citizens regarding visa and other immigration issues. These are: the Irish Support Agency (Sydney), the Irish Australian Support Resources Bureau (Melbourne), the Claddagh Association of Western Australia (Perth) and the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland (Brisbane).

Many thousands of Irish people have lived and worked in Australia in recent years. The vast majority of these build happy and successful lives there and help to foster the strong people-to-people ties between our two nations.

I am aware of recent media reports that a number of Irish citizens have been expelled from Australia since 2016 due to visa issues. Visas for Australia are a matter for the Australian authorities, and as such I have not contacted my counterpart in this regard. It is the responsibility of all Irish citizens in Australia to comply fully with the legal requirements necessary to obtain and retain a visa.

Officials at my Department, including at the Embassy of Ireland in Canberra, the Consulate-General of Ireland in Sydney and the Honorary Consulate in Perth will continue to monitor the situation and to offer appropriate support to Irish citizens.

Northern Ireland

 123. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland recently to discuss reconvening the Northern Ireland Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41950/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since the Assembly elections of March 2017, the Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Agreement, have worked tirelessly to support and facilitate the parties in their efforts to form a new power-sharing Executive.

Unfortunately, to date, it has not proved possible to reach an agreement on the formation of an Executive, despite intensive engagement. The absence of the Executive also means that that North South Ministerial Council cannot meet.

I am currently engaging with Secretary of State Bradley on how both Governments can most effectively secure the effective operation of all of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. I met with Secretary of State Bradley in Dublin on 17 September and again in Belfast last week on 8 October.

Both Governments are continuing to engage with all of the political parties to seek a way forward to get the Institutions up and running again. All parties have re-affirmed their commitment to operating the devolved institutions and have provided views on their key concerns and issues.

In the period ahead, I believe a new political process is required to get beyond the current impasse and secure the necessary agreement between the parties on operating the devolved institutions again.

I do not underestimate the way to go in achieving that, but I firmly believe that a resolution is possible and that the calls from across all sections of the community in Northern Ireland for the devolved institutions to operate will be heeded.

The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of the institutions of the Agreement.

North-South Implementation Bodies

 124. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will report on the allocation in 2019 to North-South bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41951/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In this jurisdiction, responsibility for the North South Implementation Bodies is exercised by several of my Government colleagues: the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (InterTrade Ireland), the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Waterways Ireland and the Language Body which comprises Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster Scots Agency), the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission - Loughs Agency); the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (the Special EU Programmes Body); and the Minister for Health (the Food Safety Promotion Board). Tourism Ireland Ltd. is the responsibility of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

I do not have direct responsibility for any of the North South Implementation Bodies established under the British Irish Agreement or Tourism Ireland Ltd, or for allocations made to those Bodies.

The North South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland, all of which operate on an all-island basis, are funded jointly by the Administrations, North and South, on the basis of an agreed contribution ratio, which varies from Body to Body, and decisions concerning the Bodies are taken jointly by the relevant Ministers North and South in the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC).

At present, in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, it is not possible for the NSMC to meet and to bring the Government and Executive together to oversee ongoing North South work and further develop cooperation, as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement. Notwithstanding the current political situation, the North South Implementation Bodies continue to carry out their important public functions in line with their mandates and to deliver economic and social benefits for people across the island.

Allocations to the Bodies are matters for the Ministers that I have listed, and full details of the allocations for 2019 will be set out in the Revised Estimates Volume.

Brexit Issues

 125. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will report on his regional meetings on Brexit; if he is satisfied with the uptake on the various schemes being provided to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41952/18]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since my appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in June 2017 I have overseen and co-ordinated a sustained intensification of Brexit preparedness and contingency planning across Government.

As part of these efforts, the Government is organising “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” public information events around Ireland to inform and advise about Brexit preparedness and the range of support measures and resources that the Government has put in place.

The first regional public event was held in Cork on Friday, 5 October, with last Friday’s event held in Galway. Two further events will take place over the coming weeks in Monaghan (19 October) and Dublin (25 October). To date these events have been very well attended with strong participation from the public and business communities.

These events bring together a dozen Agencies and their parent Departments – the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport - under one roof to inform and advise both citizens and businesses about Brexit preparedness and the range of support measures and resources the Government has put in place.

A suite of measures were introduced in Budget 2018 to support companies preparing for Brexit. Given that these schemes are ongoing, Departments with line responsibility for those schemes are best placed to provide updates on participation in those schemes.

In addition to the measures and supports introduced in Budget 2018, the Government introduced a range of Brexit Readiness measures in Budget 2019.

These measures will protect Ireland from the negative economic impact of Brexit and include the fund of a €2 billion Rainy Day Fund with €1.5bn from ISIF and €500m in 2019 capital funding, increased staffing across state agencies and key embassies, and a new €300m long-term Future Growth Loan Scheme partnership to provide 8-10 year loans between the Departments of Business, Enterprise and Innovation & Agriculture, Food and the Marine (which is in addition to Budget 2018’s €300m short-term SME loan scheme).


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