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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 169-186
 Header Item Employment Investment Incentive Scheme
 Header Item Motor Industry
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Rates
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Knowledge Development Box
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item NAMA Operations
 Header Item Carbon Tax Implementation
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility
 Header Item EU Regulations
 Header Item Insurance Industry
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Deer Culls
 Header Item Drainage Schemes
 Header Item Construction Costs

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 978 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 169-186

Employment Investment Incentive Scheme

 169. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 69 of 22 November 2018, the penalties that will be imposed on a company that issues an incorrect statement of qualification under the EII scheme; the penalties if the incorrect statement was intentional or unintentional, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4033/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In my responses to Parliamentary Questions No. 69 of 22 November 2018 and No. 77 of 23 January 2019, I set out how tax underpaid by investors as a consequence of an incorrectly issued Statement of Qualification for relief under the Employment and Investment incentive may be recovered from an investee company in certain circumstances.

  I also advised that, in such circumstances, the company may be liable to penalties as provided for in Section 1077E of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The penalty regime provided for in this section applies to all tax defaults. In summary, the regime applies a penalty commencing at 100% of the additional tax due, but reduced by a number of factors including:

  - The behaviour of the taxpayer that gave rise to the default, i.e. whether it was Deliberate Behaviour, Careless Behaviour with Significant Consequences or Careless Behaviour without Significant Consequences;

  - Whether a Qualifying Disclosure, prompted or unprompted, was made;

  - Whether the taxpayer co-operated with Revenue.

  Full details on penalties are set out in Chapter 5 of the Code of Practice for Revenue Audit and other Compliance Interventions. This can be found on the Revenue website at the following link:https://www.revenue.ie/en/self-assessment-and-self-employment/code-of-practice-and-compliance/index.aspx.

  It should be noted that where a penalty cannot be agreed with the taxpayer, Revenue advises me that it will ask the relevant Court to determine the penalty.

  Revenue also advises me that without the full facts of any case, it is not possible to give a definitive answer as to the level of penalty due. I am advised, however, that it is very much in the taxpayer’s interest to advise Revenue of a default, whether intentional or unintentional, in advance of the start of any form of intervention, as the taxpayer can benefit from reduced penalties and avoid being investigated with a view to a prosecution. Full details of options for taxpayers to regularise their tax affairs are set out in Chapter 3 of the Code of Practice. The relevant options for the EII scheme include:

  1. Declaring an Innocent Error

  An innocent error may be corrected without penalty where the tax default was not deliberate and the taxpayer took reasonable care to comply with his or her tax obligations. A number of factors will be considered when deciding if a tax default will be accepted as an innocent error, and they are set out in paragraph 3.3 of the Code.

  2. Self-Correction

  To encourage taxpayers to self-review and regularise any errors or oversights, the Code allows taxpayers to self-correct without penalty for a defined period. For the EII scheme, this period ends with the filing of the Corporation Tax return for the period in which the Statement of Qualification was issued or until the taxpayer is notified of a compliance intervention, whichever occurs earlier.

  3. Qualifying Unprompted Disclosure   

  Taxpayers can make an unprompted qualifying disclosure before Revenue initiates an investigation or inquiry or before the issue of a letter notifying the taxpayer of the commencement of an audit. The benefits of making a qualifying unprompted disclosure include significantly reduced tax-geared penalties, and that the taxpayer will not be investigated with a view to prosecution, nor will he or she be published for the defaults disclosed.

  4. Qualifying Prompted Disclosure

  Taxpayers also have the benefit of making a prompted qualifying disclosure in the period between the date of issue of the audit notification letter and the actual start of the audit. The benefits of making a qualifying prompted disclosure include reduced tax-geared penalties and that the taxpayer will not be investigated with a view to prosecution, nor will he or she be published for the defaults disclosed.

Motor Industry

 170. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the measures he plans to implement to assist the motor trade due to the substantial drop in car sales and the increased volume of imports, in some instances with environmental impacts, particularly from Northern Ireland and Britain, and the impact on employment in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4124/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The large-scale importation of used cars from the UK during 2016 to 2018 may be due to a number of factors such as the relative weaknesses of sterling and the disparity in policies between the UK and Ireland in relation to the taxation of diesel and diesel vehicles.

My Department recognises that the large-scale importation of used cars from the UK over the past number of years is undesirable from a public health perspective and also an Exchequer perspective. In this regard, my officials will bring forward options to the Tax Strategy Group later in the year to address the matter and more broadly to help Ireland meet its 2030 Climate Change targets.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 163.

Mortgage Interest Rates

 172. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the contingencies in the event vulture funds increase the interest rate on mortgage loans significantly in excess of market rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4205/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe All mortgage or other loans which are sold or assigned to a new creditor will continue to be subject to the terms of the contract as entered into by the borrower, including the terms which provide for an adjustment to the borrowing rate.

  Also, the Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2015 provides that all the consumer protections a borrower had prior to a loan sale continue to apply after the loan sale irrespective of the regulatory status of the new creditor. Additionally, the new Consumer Protection (Regulation of Credit Servicing Firms) Act 2018, which came into effect on 21 January 2019, provides that the holder of the legal title to credit, if not already subject to authorisation by the Central Bank, must now be authorised by the Central Bank as a credit servicing firm.

  This Central Bank regulatory framework makes clear that the relevant Central Bank statutory codes, such as the Consumer Protection Code and where applicable the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, will apply to residential mortgages provided to consumers irrespective of the current creditor party to that mortgage agreement. In this context, there are a number of regulatory obligations which are due to the consumer. Firstly, there is an obligation to ensure that the "owner" of the mortgage acts honestly, fairly and professionally in the best interest of its customers.

  Furthermore, an addendum to the Consumer Protection Code, which came into effect from 1 February 2017, now requires that a regulated entity (including where applicable a credit servicing firm) must produce a summary statement of its policy for setting each variable mortgage interest rate (excluding a tracker interest rate) which, inter alia:

  (I) clearly identifies the factors which may result in changes to the variable interest rate;

  (II) clearly outlines the criteria and procedures applicable to the setting of the variable interest rate; and

  (III) clearly outlines where the regulated entity applies a different approach to setting the variable interest rate for different cohorts of borrowers and the reasons for the different approach.

   There is also a requirement to update this statement when the policy changes.

  Furthermore, a regulated entity is also obliged, at least annually, to provide to a variable mortgage interest rate borrower (excluding a tracker interest rate mortgage), inter alia, a summary of other mortgage products offered by the entity which could provide savings for the personal consumer at that point in time and details of how the personal consumer can obtain information on these mortgage products. (There is also a requirement to provide a link to the relevant section of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission's website relating to switching lenders or changing mortgage type. The most recent addendum to the Consumer Protection Codes, which came into effect on 1 January 2019, further supports the mortgage switching process and, where applicable, also requires lenders to notify borrowers if savings can be made on the mortgage by moving between loan to value interest rate bands. In this context, it should also be noted that the Central Bank macro prudential loan-to-value and loan-to-income residential mortgage lending restrictions do not apply to switcher mortgages).

  If a consumer is not satisfied with the way his or her lender is dealing with him or her under the terms of the contract, the consumer protection regulatory framework, the relevant legal framework or more generally, he or she can make a complaint directly to the lender pursuant to Chapter 10 of the Consumer Protection Code, and if the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved at that point, the borrower can then refer the matter to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

Insurance Costs

 173. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to tackle increasing insurance premiums (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4215/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland has the power to direct insurance companies on the pricing or provision of insurance products. Indeed, the EU framework for insurance expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. The provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter for insurance companies and is based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept and adequate provisioning to meet those risks. These are considered by insurance companies on a case-by-case basis.

  Motor insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer cover and what terms to apply. Factors include those such as the age and type of vehicle, the age of the driver, the relevant driving experience, the claims record, how the vehicle is used, and the number of drivers. Insurers do not all use the same combination of rating factors, prices vary across the market and consumers are free to choose. Insurance companies also price in accordance with their own past claims experience.

  Notwithstanding the above, my predecessor as Minister for Finance, Mr. Michael Noonan, T.D., established the Cost of Insurance Working Group in July 2016. This Working Group, now chaired by the Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, Mr. Michael D’Arcy, T.D., undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.

  The initial focus of the Working Group was the issue of rising motor insurance premiums and the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017. The Report makes 33 recommendations with 71 associated actions to be carried out in agreed timeframes, which are set out in an Action Plan.

  Work is ongoing on the implementation of the recommendations by the relevant Government Departments and Agencies, and there is a commitment within the Report that the Working Group will prepare quarterly updates on its progress. The seventh such update was published last November and shows that of the 59 separate applicable deadlines within the Action Plan set to the end of Q3 2018, 45 relate to actions which have now been completed. Substantial work has also been undertaken in respect of the nine action points categorised as “ongoing”.

  Both the Report and the quarterly updates are available on the Department’s website, within, “The Cost of Insurance Working Group”, sub-section of the main “Insurance” section.

  It is envisaged that the implementation of all the recommendations cumulatively, with the appropriate levels of commitment and co-operation from all relevant stakeholders, should achieve the objectives of delivering fairer premiums for consumers and a more stable and competitive insurance market. In this regard, it should be noted that the most recent CSO data (for December 2018) indicates that private motor insurance premiums have decreased by 22.16% since peaking in July 2016. While it is accepted that premiums are still at a very high level for many people, such statistics indicate at least a greater degree of stability in the market on an overall basis.

  Finally, it may be of interest to your constituent that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website – https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/money/insurance/car-insurance/  – has an informative section regarding the purchase of car insurance, and one of the key tips listed to help cut costs is to, “shop around”, and, “always get quotes from several insurance providers when you need to get or renew insurance”.

Knowledge Development Box

 174. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of companies that availed of the knowledge development box in 2018; the cost of same in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4239/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, no data in respect of 2018 will be available to Revenue until the corporation tax returns for accounting years ended in 2018 are filed, processed and analysed. I am advised by Revenue that the latest available information is from Corporation Tax returns for 2016, which indicate 11 companies claimed the Knowledge Development Box with a tax cost of €9 million. Information in respect of 2017 will be published during 2019, when returns for the year have been processed and analysed. Information in respect of 2018 will likewise be published during 2020.

Legislative Process

 175. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the legislation including heads of Bills from his Department which have been sent to EU institutions before their publication for the period of the thirty-second Dáil; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [4249/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I set out in the following table legislation which has been sent to EU institutions for consultation purposes since 10 March 2016. The Deputy should note that some items have been consulted on after the approval by Government of the Heads, while some items will not have been consulted on until after publication of the Bill itself, as is apparent from the dates in the table.

Title of legislation EU Institution to which the legislation was referred Date of referral Date of publication of the legislation
Finance Bill 2017 – Amendments to Sections 579, 579A and 590 TCA, 1997 European Commission 28 June 2017 19 October 2017
Home Building Finance Ireland Bill European Commission 14 February 2018 14 June 2018
Insurance (Amendment) Act 2018 ECB 4 July 2018 19 June 2018
Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 ECB 16 July 2018 10 July 2018
Heads of Bill regarding Settlement Finality for the Miscellaneous Provisions(Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from theEuropean Union on 29 March 2019) Bill 2019 European Commission 24 January 2019 24 January 2019

Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 163.

NAMA Operations

 177. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the development that NAMA is involved in regarding the orders to quit for tenants living in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4305/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy will be aware that NAMA does not own or control property, rather NAMA owns loans for which the properties act as security.

I am advised that the properties concerned are under the control of the court-appointed administrator of a deceased person’s estate and that NAMA is a secured creditor. The Deputy will be aware that one of the primary duties of an administrator is to maximise the value of the assets and discharge the debts of the estate. Neither I, as Minister, nor NAMA, as charge holder, can force a court-appointed administrator to take action which could impede this process, such as prohibiting the sale of estate assets or selling the assets at less than market value.

The Deputy will also be aware that I, as Minister for Finance, have no role in respect of NAMA's commercial operations or decisions. It would not therefore be appropriate for me to comment on this matter.

Carbon Tax Implementation

 178. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the work being carried out by his Department to address unfair and unequal probable impacts of future national policy on carbon taxation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4322/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Decisions on tax policy take place every year as part of the annual budgetary process. The Environmental Taxes paper prepared annually for the Tax Strategy Group contains analysis on the carbon tax and this helps inform subsequent budget decisions. The Tax Strategy Group papers are available to read on the Department of Finance website.

The ESRI was commissioned and has published research on the environmental, social and economic impacts of increasing the carbon tax rate and is now in the next phase of this research, which will help inform future carbon tax policy decisions.

Under a commitment contained in the National Mitigation Plan, there are also cross-departmental structures to examine carbon tax policy. In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action is currently considering measures to tackle climate change, including in relation to the carbon tax. The final report of the Committee is expected to be published soon, and this will also be taken into consideration as part of the budgetary process.

In regard to mitigation factors, there are schemes already in place to help qualifying households to keep their homes warm through the winter. These include the National Fuel Allowance under the Department of Social Protection and a variety of home energy grants for energy efficiency improvements under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility

 179. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the clinical guidelines and methodology used to determine whether an applicant qualifies for a primary medical certificate; the policy in place to ensure applications are dealt with on a consistent basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4342/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy will be aware of the medical criteria used to determine whether an applicant qualifies for a primary medical certificate, PMC. The PMC is issued by the relevant Senior Medical Officer in the HSE, or failing that an appeal may be made to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal. I have no role in relation to the granting or refusal of PMCs, and the HSE and the Medical Board of Appeal must be independent in their clinical determinations.

I understand that my colleague, Finian McGrath, T.D., Minister of State for Disability Issues, in responding to the same question asked by the Deputy, advised that the HSE will respond directly to the Deputy in relation to how HSE personnel apply the criteria set out in the regulations and ensure a consistent approach to its application.

EU Regulations

 180. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4355/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Commission Regulation (EU) No. 702/2014 of 25 June 2014, commonly known as the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation, ABER, is the Regulation under which certain categories of State aid can be granted to the agricultural and forestry sectors.

ABER became operational on 1 July 2014 and has had direct effect in all Member States since then. This means that the ABER rules apply directly to beneficiaries in Ireland regardless of our domestic Irish law and without having to be enacted in our tax legislation. Sections 21 (income tax and corporation tax measures) and 48 (stamp duty measures) of Finance Act 2018 (No. 30 of 2018) amend the relevant domestic tax legislation to provide greater clarity for the farming sector in relation to the ABER rules.

One of the conditions imposed by the regulation is that the aid be granted to a, “young farmer”, which means a person who is no more than 40 years of age on the date of submitting the aid application, possesses adequate occupational skills and competences and is setting up for the first time in an agricultural holding as a head of that holding.

I am aware that concerns as to the possible detrimental effect of this measure on the intergenerational transfer of farmland have been expressed by farm representative bodies.

Officials from my Department, Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine have met with both members of the Irish Farmers Association and Macra na Feirme to discuss these concerns and work is ongoing on this matter.

Insurance Industry

 181. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of persons who were underpaid insurance compensation after Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma; the amount by which they were underpaid; if he will publish the report by his Department on the practices of insurance companies in the aftermath of extreme weather events; if legislation is ready to prohibit such actions by insurance companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [4415/19]

 182. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the Central Bank and the Personal Injuries Assessment Board have been formally requested to report on the practice of insurance companies offering cash offers for less than the amount for which property was insured in the aftermath of extreme weather events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4416/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 182 together.

I understand that the Deputy’s queries arise from comments made in the media recently by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Michael D’Arcy, T.D. At the outset, it is important to note that my Department does not collect the type of information being sought by the Deputy, and therefore I am not in a position to answer any specific questions regarding insurance compensation after Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma.

Notwithstanding this, I understand that the Minister of State requested Department officials to carry out an analysis with regard to how insurance claims were managed in the wake of Storms Ophelia and Emma last year. This arose on foot of negative feedback the Minister of State had received personally from policyholders of delays in claims processing in relation to the storms.

As part of this review, the Minister of State and Department officials met directly with a number of the largest insurance companies operating in the State to discuss their individual responses as well as to seek information with regard to how the claims process was handled since the storms, highlighting the issues that the Minister of State had received feedback on. Meetings also took place with representatives of loss assessors and a number of insurance brokers from an area which was heavily impacted by Storm Emma. A summary was prepared following these meetings outlining an analysis of some of the points raised during the meetings. This was presented to the Minister of State for his consideration, and in response he has asked that his concerns be further examined by members of the CIWG over the coming weeks.

Finally, you should note that there are no proposals at present to introduce legislation on the points raised in the question.

EU Funding

 183. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the breakdown of PEACE and INTERREG funding since inception by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4264/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, the PEACE and INTERREG programmes are important drivers of regional development in a cross-border context, and reflect the unique and specific circumstances on the island of Ireland. Through this EU-funded co-operation, a wide range of organisations have engaged in and benefitted from a variety of cross-border and cross-community projects throughout Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. The programmes are managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, a North-South Implementation Body established under the Good Friday Agreement.

  The majority of projects supported under the PEACE and INTERREG programmes involve activities and beneficiaries on a regional basis rather than on a county basis; accordingly a detailed county breakdown is not available.

  The following table shows funding awarded under PEACE since 1995 and under INTERREG since 2000, based on data available to the Special EU Programmes Body.

  * Note re funding amounts:

  Where both currencies are provided, they represent equivalent amounts and not separate amounts of funding. PEACE I funding amounts are only available in sterling and PEACE IV and INTERREG VA funding amounts are only available in euro.

Programme Amount Awarded STG Amount Awarded EUR
PEACE I (1995-1999) £446 million -
PEACE II (2000-2006) £646 million* €989 million*
PEACE III (2007-2013) £264 million* €316 million*
PEACE IV (2014-2020) - €197 million
INTERREG IIIA (2000-2006) £115 million* €177 million*
INTERREG IVA (2007-2013) £205 million* €246 million*
INTERREG VA (2014-2020) - €253 million

Deer Culls

 184. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the NPWS has investigated solutions other than culling to address the overpopulation of the Phoenix Park deer herd; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4268/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Public Works has a Deer Policy for the Phoenix Park which has been endorsed by both the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the School of Biology & Environmental Science at University College Dublin. This policy addresses all aspects of deer welfare and management of the deer herd in line with international best practice. The Phoenix Park team has long-standing experience in managing the herd of wild fallow deer at the Park.

Together with the School of Biology & Environmental Science at U.C.D., OPW has explored various approaches to population management appropriate to a wild herd including use of contraceptives and relocation of deer to other locations. These options are impractical for a number of reasons primarily because the deer are wild, and there are very significant physical challenges in dealing with wild adult deer. For example, capture and transport would be extremely stressful for the animal and so, for animal welfare reasons, relocation is not considered appropriate.

Having considered the various options in detail and with reference to international best practice for management of wild herds, OPW has concluded that a cull, as undertaken on 9 January, is considered the most appropriate and humane approach to population management.

Drainage Schemes

 185. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if funding will be allocated to carry out works (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3761/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Public Works, OPW, is responsible for the maintenance of Arterial Drainage Schemes and catchment drainage schemes designated under the Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995. The river channel section referred to by the Deputy forms part of the River Maine Catchment Drainage Scheme for which the OPW has maintenance responsibility.

Following the Deputy’s representation, staff from OPW inspected the section of the channel referred to and found it to be in reasonable repair and condition with no major impediments to the conveyance of the watercourse.

Scheduled maintenance to this reach of the river extending from Currans Bridge downstream as far as Maine Bridge is expected to commence in September 2019.

Construction Costs

 186. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his assessment of the impact of construction inflation on the costs outlined when announcing the allocation to Departments under the National Development Plan 2018-2027; if no such assessment has been completed, when such an assessment will be completed and published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3946/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Inflation is a common occurrence across most sectors of an economy, including the construction sector. However, given the scale of the necessary increase in public capital investment, against the backdrop of continuing strong private sector investment, the mid-term review of the 2016-2021 Capital Plan published by DPER in September 2017 noted the potential for capacity pressures in the construction sector and the need for a strategic focus on addressing these.

As announced in the NDP in February 2018, a Construction Sector Group has been established to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector. The CSG is made up of each of the key segments of the industry along with officials from relevant Departments and Agencies. The CSG's remit includes the consideration of opportunities to introduce reforms within the sector that will help in controlling price inflation, improving efficiency and delivering value for money investment.

In particular, there will be strong focus on developing initiatives to drive productivity growth in the construction sector. This will help ensure a higher level of output for a given level of resources and can assist in tempering the impact of inflation caused by capacity constraints.

My Department is preparing a report on the performance and prospects of the Irish construction sector based on the available data. That report, which I anticipate will be published in the coming weeks, will further aid in the monitoring of trends across the sector, ranging from output and investment to employment and cost inflation, so that risks and performance issues can be identified and addressed where necessary.


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