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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 108-130
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Public Inquiries
 Header Item EU Presidency Expenditure
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Increment Payments
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
 Header Item Overseas Development Aid Provision
 Header Item Sectarian Violence
 Header Item Public Inquiries
 Header Item Property Taxation Application
 Header Item Property Taxation Application
 Header Item Tax Rebates
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 108-130

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 108. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if temporary promotions or acting-up allowances have not been a feature of the staffing arrangements for this EU Presidency; if he will provide a list of Departments that were given sanction to make such arrangements detailing the number by grade involved in each Department and the date sanction was sought and the date that it was given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56339/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There are no temporary promotions or acting-up allowances in my Department for the EU Presidency.

European Council Meetings

 109. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56554/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do not sit on any formation of the EU Council of Ministers. I am a member of the European Council, which is a separate institution. I attended all meetings of the European Council in the period in question.

Ministerial Meetings

 110. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Taoisigh Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny cé mhéad uair, ó ceapadh an Rialtas seo, a bhí cruinniú den Choiste Rialtais ar an nGaeilge agus ar an nGaeltacht ann; agus cad iad dátaí na gcruinnithe sin. [49437/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Bhuail an Coiste Comhaireachta ar an nGaeilge agus ar an nGaeltacht le chéile ceithre huaire ó chuireadh ar bun é ar 14 Aibreán 2011; ar 19 Bealtaine 2011, 5 Meitheamh 2012, 19 Iúil 2012 agus 5 Samhain 2012.

Public Inquiries

 111. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will support the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane in their efforts for a public inquiry; and if he will raise this matter with the British Government. [56813/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Successive Irish Governments have consistently supported the Finucane family in their efforts to ascertain the full truth behind Pat Finucane’s murder and the subsequent investigations, including the extent of collusion. This Government’s position has consistently been in accordance with the all-party motion adopted in the Dáil in 2006 which called for a full, independent, public inquiry, as recommended by Judge Cory.

The British and Irish Governments agreed in 2001 to appoint a judge of international standing to investigate these cases and, in the event that a Public Inquiry was recommended in any case, to implement that recommendation.

In April 2004 Judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry in five cases. On foot of his recommendation, the Smithwick Tribunal was established by resolutions of Dáil and Seanad Eireann in 2005. The Smithwick Tribunal is currently concluding its work.

The Irish Government disagreed strongly with the decision by the British Government last year not to conduct a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and made its position known to them on numerous occasions.

I spoke to the Prime Minister in advance of his statement in the House of Commons on the de Silva report. I welcome both his apology and his determination to get to the truth behind this case, but the position of the Irish Government in respect of the need for a public inquiry remains unchanged.

I also note that the Prime Minister indicated in his statement that various authorities in Britain and in Northern Ireland are expected to consider the De Silva Report.

I also spoke to Geraldine Finucane after the publication of the De Silva Report and intend to consult further with the family once I have had the opportunity to consider the Report in greater detail.

EU Presidency Expenditure

 112. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total cost of the EU Presidency 2013 on his Department and its agencies; if he will provide a full breakdown of same; the way this cost compares to the previous Irish Presidency; the specific sponsorship deals which have been entered into in respect of the EU Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56536/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government decided in December 2011 to allocate a total budget in the order of €60m over 2012 and 2013 to resource the Presidency, with an additional allocation to be made in respect of security costs. €23 million was allocated in 2012 across a range of Departments and Offices. A further allocation of €36m has been included in the Estimates for Public Services, published on 5 December last.

  A further €10m has also been included to address security costs related to both the Presidency and the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting held in Dublin last week.

  This budget is broadly in line with budgets for recent Presidencies and is less than the budget for the Irish Presidency in 2004 where total expenditure, when all costs were taken into account, was approximately €110m.

Expenditure in 2012 focused primarily on planning costs which included:

-The refurbishment of Dublin Castle conference facilities

-The fitting out of extra office accommodation within the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels

-Increased staffing in Dublin and Brussels to support the Presidency

-Costs for re-location of additional staff to the Permanent Representation

-The development of a Presidency website

-The development of an accreditation system to handle the approx 15,000 delegates expected to visit Ireland. This system was also used for the OSCE Ministerial meeting.

-The provision of Presidency materials such as stationery and branding;

-The preparation of a Cultural programme;

-Increased travel to Brussels and Strasbourg in the build-up to the Presidency;-

The majority of expenditure in 2013 will be for the following:

the management of the Presidency agenda in home Departments;

the operation of a significantly-enlarged Permanent Representation in Brussels (+90 people);

a programme of Presidency events taking place in Ireland;

a cultural programme that uses the Presidency to promote Ireland and Irish culture to an international   audience and which also showcases the role of the EU in Ireland.

  To date approximately 20 proposals of sponsorship have been received in respect of the Presidency. These cover a wide spectrum of companies from smaller domestic companies to larger multinationals and include offers of support in relation to transport, telecommunications, IT-related projects and to cover certain event costs. In addition, State agencies and other bodies have been of assistance in providing services and support. The assessment of sponsorship offers is underway and a full list of sponsors will be released when this is finalised.

  An overarching focus of the Government in planning for Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is to perform this important function in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

  The use of Dublin Castle and a small number of other state-owned venues mainly in Dublin to host most Presidency meetings will reduce venue hire, transport and set-up costs, not to mention significantly reducing the “carbon footprint” of the Presidency.

  An effectively managed Presidency will deliver long-term reputational benefits for Ireland. Short-term benefits include significant benefits for the local economy from an influx of up to 15,000 delegates, press and representatives of NGOs who will use local services including hotels, restaurants, taxis etc. over the six month Presidency period.   

Public Sector Staff Increment Payments

 113. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the date on which he intends to review the salary grading structure of the public service as it affects his Department as committed to in the Programme for Government. [56386/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The matter which is the subject of the Deputy's question is one for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

European Council Meetings

 114. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the formations of the EU Councils of Ministers on which he sits; the number of meetings of that Council held from 9 March 2011 to date in 2012; the number of those meetings he attended; the number attended by a Minister of State; the number attended by an Irish official; and if he will provide the names of those who attended in tabular form. [56548/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Council of the European Union is a key decision-making institution of the EU, at whose meetings all EU Member States are represented.   Since 9 March 2011, I have represented Ireland at 12 meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council and 4 meetings of the General Affairs Council. In addition, I have also attended 4 informal meetings of Foreign Ministers, the so-called “Gymnich” meetings.

  When I have been unable to attend these meetings, Ireland has been represented by a Ministerial colleague, generally the Minister for State for European Affairs.

  Since 9 March 2011, the Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D. has represented Ireland at 5 meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council. and 17 meetings of the General Affairs Council.

  In addition, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin T.D. represented Ireland at one meeting of the General Affairs Council dedicated to Cohesion Policy.

  Details of attendance, at meetings of the General Affairs Council, the Foreign Affairs Council and “Gymnichs” since 9 March 2011, are listed as follows.

  2012

Date
Meeting
Irish representation
11 December 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
10 December 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
20 November 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
19 November 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
16 October 2012
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
15 October 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
24 September 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
7-8 September 2012
Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Cyprus
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
24 July 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
23 July 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
26 June 2012
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
25 June 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
29 May 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
14 May 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
24 April 2012
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
23 April 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
26 March 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
23 March 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
9-10 March 2012
Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Copenhagen
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
28 February 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
27 February 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
27 January 2012
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
23 January 2012
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.


  2011 (9 March – end 2011)

Date
Meeting
Irish representation
16 December 2011
General Affairs Council (Cohesion), Brussels
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin T.D.
5 December 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
1 December 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
15 November 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
22 October 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
11 October 2011
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
10 October 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
12 September 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
2/3 September 2011
Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Poland
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

18 July 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
18 July 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
21 June 2011
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
20 June 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
23 May 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
23 May 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
13 April 2011
General Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
12 April 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Luxembourg
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.
21 March 2011
General Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
21 March 2011
Foreign Affairs Council, Brussels
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for EU Affairs, Ms. Lucinda Creighton T.D.
11/12 March 2011
Informal Foreign Affairs Council, Budapest
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D.

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

 115. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore in view of the recognised ongoing conflict in the OSCE that is suffering from infighting between the OSCE PA and OSCE/ODIHR, if he agrees with this assessment and what has he done to consolidate this most important democratic international body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56625/12]

 118. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will respond, in his role as Chairman in Office of the OSCE, to comments in a publication (details supplied) made by the secretary general of the OSCE PA, who has stated that because of the ongoing conflict in this organisation two conflicting reports of the recent American Election were released; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56821/12]

 119. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will respond, in his role, as chairman in office of the OSCE, to the suggestion made by the secretary general of the OSCE PA, that their is a situation of conflict between the OSCE PA and the OSCE/ODIHR and that it is a mess; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56822/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 115, 118 and 119 together.

  As I have previously indicated to the House, election observation has been a key component of the work of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) since 1990, when the Office for Free Elections was established by the Paris Summit of the CSCE – the OSCE’s predecessor.

  The Office for Free Elections was renamed the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in 1992 and ODIHR’s role in comprehensive election monitoring has been enhanced by OSCE participating States over time. The objectives of ODIHR's election observation activities are twofold: (i) to assess electoral processes in accordance with OSCE election-related commitments; and (ii) to offer recommendations and assistance, where necessary, to bring electoral processes into line with those commitments.

  Since 1993, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) has also observed elections in OSCE participating States, applying the particular expertise of parliamentarians to the task of election observation and enhancing the visibility of the OSCE’s election observation efforts.

A Cooperation Agreement on election activities was concluded between ODIHR and the OSCE PA in 1997, reflecting a desire to avoid overlap, redundancy, unnecessary expense and confusion between the two OSCE institutions. The 1997 Cooperation Agreement provides inter alia   for the exchange of information, participation by the Parliamentary Assembly in Needs Assessment Missions, common briefings and de-briefings and logistical support to Parliamentary Assembly short-term observers.

In 2006, at the Brussels OSCE Ministerial Council, participating States adopted Decision Number 19/06, which inter alia   stressed that election observation is a common endeavour involving ODIHR, the OSCE PA and other parliamentary institutions, and called on ODIHR to continue to work in partnership with the OSCE PA on election observation missions on the basis of the 1997 Cooperation Agreement.

  Regrettably, despite the existence of the 1997 Cooperation Agreement, relations between ODIHR and the OSCE PA have not always been smooth. The Chairmanship-in-Office has only a very limited role in the field of election observation, essentially limited to the appointment of a Special Coordinator to lead short-term election observation missions. However, I can assure the Deputy that the Irish Chairmanship has sought at all times to apply the spirit and letter of the 1997 Cooperation Agreement, in the best interests of the Organisation as a whole.

  In the specific case of the recent US elections, it is deeply regrettable that two separate and partially conflicting reports were released, one by the Limited Election Observation Mission deployed by ODIHR, and another by the short-term observer mission deployed by the OSCE PA. Despite a written appeal by the Irish Chairmanship for both sides to coordinate - as they are committed to doing under the 1997 Cooperation Agreement - separate press conferences were also arranged in the days following the election.

  On 6 December last, during the opening session of the 19th OSCE Ministerial Council in Dublin, the President of the OSCE PA, Mr. Riccardo Migliori, outlined his organisation’s view that ODIHR was not adhering strictly to the 1997 Cooperation Agreement and announced that the OSCE PA regarded the Cooperation Agreement as “no longer valid and […] no longer operative”. As Chairman-in-Office,   I immediately expressed my regret that the OSCE PA was effectively terminating the Cooperation Agreement. I recalled Ministerial Council decision 19/06 and reaffirmed the Irish Chairmanship’s support for ODIHR’s election observation activities, based on the key principles of independence, impartiality and professionalism, as endorsed by participating States.

  ODIHR will continue to deploy election observation missions, as mandated by OSCE participating States, and it is my understanding that the OSCE PA will also continue its election observation programme independently from ODIHR. I have been assured that ODIHR remains committed to conducting election observation as a common endeavour, in partnership with the OSCE PA and all other parliamentary institutions, in accordance with Ministerial Council decision 19/06.   I hope that the OSCE PA will reconsider its position, in the best interests of the OSCE.

Overseas Development Aid Provision

 116. Deputy John Paul Phelan Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will provide an update regarding Ireland's commitment to overseas development aid in particular its commitment to the millennium development goals and the promise to increase overseas development aid to 0.7% of GNP in the context of Budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56639/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Ireland’s aid programme prioritises the fight against global poverty and hunger. It is strongly focused on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa, prioritising investments in the areas of education, health, good governance, food security and nutrition. The programme is central to our foreign policy, has an enviable international reputation, and consistently enjoys strong political and public support.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the framework for international development policy up to 2015 - are central to Ireland’s overseas development programme, and to the Government’s development policy. Globally, the incidence of poverty is reducing, and it is likely that the first Millennium Development Goal – to halve world poverty by 2015 – will be met. International aid has played a hugely important part in contributing to this progress.

A review of the White Paper on Irish Aid was undertaken in 2012 to ensure that Ireland’s aid programme remains relevant to changing circumstances both in Ireland and in our partner countries, and that the high standards for which the Irish Aid is renowned, are maintained into the future. A revised policy on international development will be launched by the Government early in the New Year.

For 2012, the Government provided some €639 million in total Official Development Assistance (ODA). In 2013, it is anticipated that ODA will amount to €623 million, a modest reduction on the 2012 level. Stabilising the ODA budget has been an important and significant achievement for this Government, particularly in light of the extraordinarily difficult economic conditions facing the country.

The 2013 allocation to ODA is a clear indication of our commitment to the aid programme. I want to reiterate that this Government remains committed to achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNP. However, as I have stated on many occasions in the past, credible progress towards achieving the UN target can only be made through restoring sustainable growth in the economy.

Sectarian Violence

 117. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he will raise the issue of recent sectarian violence in Northern Ireland with the British Government as a matter of urgency. [56814/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The scenes of violence on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, the intimidation of public representatives and the attacks on members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland over the last two weeks are matters of deep concern.    The scenes of violence and intimidation remind us of the need for steady support for the peace process and the principles of the Agreements, and the vision they offer of a society based on respect for difference and tolerance for the traditions and multiple identities on this island.

I have been in regular contact with both the British Government and with political representatives in Northern Ireland as the situation evolved. I spoke to David Ford on Thursday 6 December who is both Minister for Justice with devolved responsibility for policing and justice, and leader of the Alliance party. I conveyed to him the support of the Irish Government for the PSNI and solidarity with those members of his party who have had to endure assaults on themselves, their families and their property. I also discussed the ongoing efforts of the two Governments in support of political progress with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers on the same day.    Officials from my Department remain in close contact with members of the political parties, the PSNI and British officials on an ongoing basis.

  The Northern Ireland Assembly unanimously passed a motion last Monday, which unequivocally condemned the rioting and the campaign of violent attacks on elected representatives and expressed its sympathy to all those who have been attacked or threatened.

  The Government will continue to do all in its power to support the political leaders in Northern Ireland as they work to move beyond the current tensions.

  Questions Nos. 118 and 119 answered with Question No. 115.

Public Inquiries

 120. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore his views on the De Silva report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56927/12]

 121. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the discussions he has held with the British government in relation to the De Silva Report and the need for a full independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56928/12]

 122. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has outlined to the British Government that their refusal to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is a breach of an international agreement between Ireland and Britain; the way he intends to pursue this breach of an international agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56993/12]

 123. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has outlined to the British Government that their refusal to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is a breach of an international agreement between Ireland and Britain; the way he intends to pursue this breach of an international agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56994/12]

 124. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has conveyed to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the inadequacy of the recent de Silva Report on the brutal murder of Pat Finucane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57048/12]

 125. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has conveyed to the British Government the need for a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57049/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 120-125, inclusive, together. The murder of Pat Finucane was one of a number of cases which gave rise to allegations of collusion by the security forces in one or other of the jurisdictions on the island and which therefore had profound implications for public confidence and, consequently, for the wider peace process.

It was because of their wider implications for confidence that these cases were a particular concern for the British and Irish governments at Weston Park in 2001. These talks resulted in political agreement between the two governments to appoint a judge of international standing from outside both jurisdictions to undertake a thorough investigation of these cases and, in the event that a Public Inquiry was recommended in any case, to implement that recommendation.

Following a thorough investigation of these allegations, Judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into five of the six cases. On foot of his recommendation, the Smithwick Tribunal was established by resolutions of Dáil and Seanad Eireann in 2005 and is continuing its work.

In his statement to parliament last Wednesday, Prime Minister Cameron acknowledged the systematic leaking by the security services to the UDA and paramilitary groups; failure by the RUC to act on threat intelligence; involvement by paid agents of the state in the murder of Pat Finucane; systematic failure to investigate and arrest West Belfast UDA agents involved in the murder; systematic attempts by police and army to disrupt and thwart investigations; and the deliberate misleading of Government ministers by officials.

The picture revealed to parliament by the report, as Prime Minister Cameron has said, is truly shocking. I respect the frankness and honesty with which the British Government has confronted the grievous failures identified in the report.

I believe that Prime Minister Cameron’s apology in parliament to Mrs Finucane continues the process of healing that the Prime Minister set in train with his statement to Parliament on publication of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday in June 2010.

It is a matter of public record however that the Irish government disagreed strongly with the decision by the British government last year to conduct a review rather than an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and, indeed, with the lack of consultation in advance of that decision. Our disagreement was born of a belief that public confidence is best served by a public inquiry where the process of getting to the truth is open to scrutiny and the findings placed beyond doubt. In that, we were mindful of Judge Cory’s concern that where doubts persist, myths and misconceptions might only proliferate.

The Government’s view in favour of an inquiry is underpinned by an all-party motion of the Dáil, agreed in 2006, which recalled the agreement under Weston Park; took note of Judge Cory’s findings on collusion; commended the Finucane family for their courageous campaign and called for the immediate establishment of a full, independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, as recommended by Judge Cory, which would enjoy the full co-operation of the family and the wider community throughout Ireland and abroad.

I have conveyed the Government’s long-established position on this matter to Deputy Prime Minister Clegg and to Secretary of State Villiers yesterday following publication of the de Silva report.

The Government will continue to set out the case for an inquiry, mindful of the progress that has been made and mindful too of the responsibilities that both governments share in support of the peace process. I believe the work undertaken by Desmond de Silva QC can facilitate this, helping ensure that an inquiry need not be lengthy, open-ended and inordinately expensive.

Property Taxation Application

 126. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the amount of property tax that will need to be paid for a house valued at €600,000 for a family on an invalidity pension of €1,100 per month. [56314/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The 2013 half year property tax amount due on a property valued at €600,000 is €517. The full year property tax amount due on a property valued at €600,000 is €1,035.    A property owner whose gross income (excluding child benefit) does not exceed €15,000 in the case of a single person and €25,000 in the case of couple, whether married, civil partners or qualified cohabitees would be entitled a full deferral of Local Property Tax. The deferral can be claimed, until the property is sold or transferred. A property owner whose sole income was €1,100 per month would come within this category.

  Marginal relief will apply where the gross income is €10,000 above the income limits, to permit deferrals of up to 50 per cent of liability.

Property Taxation Application

 127. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if any consideration was given to implementing a property tax on valuables sites that have not been developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56334/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Inter-Departmental Group on the Design of a Local Property Tax, chaired by Dr Don Thornhill (the “Thornhill group”) considered the question of a site value tax or land value tax and reported in some detail on the matter. The brief was to design a tax on residences, and the Group was charged with the design of an equitable property tax to replace the household charge, a tax which was informed by previous work and international experience.

The Group considered the site value tax (‘SVT’) option and benchmarked it against a market value based system. It reported that international experience would come down heavily in favour of using the market values of residential properties and that SVTs are not used extensively internationally. The vast majority of the submissions made to the Group also favoured market value as a basis for the tax. Both residential market value and SVT meet a number of important policy criteria. The arguments for SVT are outweighed by the likely difficulties in ensuring acceptance by taxpayers, i.e., arriving at values that are evidence based, understandable and acceptable to the public in addition to complexities and uncertainties in the valuation effort necessary to put an SVT in place.

Under a market value approach applied to housing, the market value of a residential property is related to the characteristics of the building itself, the site on which it is located and the characteristics and amenities of the neighbourhood. There will be a relationship between the market value of a house and benefits to the owners in terms of enjoyment of the amenity value of the properties. The question – “what is the value of my or our house or apartment?” - is a relatively simple and well understood concept.

The Group reported that, in the case of SVT, property owners would have great difficulty in dealing with a valuation exercise which conceptually separates the buildings on the site from the site (for tax purposes) in circumstances where their predominant understanding and interest lies in the market (or resale) value of their residence. Similar challenges would arise for auctioneers and valuers. The SVT system would not be as transparent or meaningful to taxpayers as market value.

Both the 2009 and the 1982 – 1985 Commissions on Taxation recommended market value as a basis for the taxation of residential property. The 2009 Commission on Taxation also considered both the site value and market value approaches. They concluded that “while seeing the economic rationale for land value tax...” [that] “it may not be a pragmatic approach to the restructuring of our property tax system”. The Commission recommended in favour of market value of residential properties (housing unit and site) as the basis of assessment.

Tax Rebates

 128. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the proposed fuel rebate scheme for road hauliers will apply to agricultural contractors; if he will consider a proposal to extend the scheme to agricultural contractors; if his attention has been drawn to an assessment that was carried out on the benefits of such scheme and if this assessment included the agricultural sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56344/12]

 148. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reasons a fuel rebate scheme for road hauliers cannot be introduced on 1 January 2013; if he is concerned that jobs and businesses may be lost in the sector due to the late introduction of the scheme; if he has considered introducing legislation to bring this into operation on 1 January 2013; the reasons he did not include the agricultural industry and farm contractors under the scheme; if he will consider including such contractors under the scheme as they too are heavily dependent on the price of fuel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56342/12]

 157. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 15 May 2012, if he will be granting a fuel rebate to bus and coach companies. [56493/12]

 162. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the new proposed diesel rebate scheme will apply to the marine transport sector and the bus and coach sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56614/12]

 172. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will consider extending the proposed diesel rebate scheme to other transportation sectors, such as the marine transportation sector, in order to help businesses create sustainable transportation options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56831/12]

 173. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the qualification criteria for hauliers who wish to avail of the fuel rebate introduced in Budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56833/12]

 189. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if consideration will be given to extending the diesel rebate for hauliers, as announced in Budget 2013, to the marine transportation sector in recognition of the boost such a measure would have on the expansion of the industry and the economic benefits which will accrue to local, in particular rural, areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56921/12]

 195. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in view of his various replies to both written and oral parliamentary questions regarding the granting of an essential users excise rebate to road hauliers, where he stated I should point out that a fuel rebate system, as sought by the IRHA, could not under EU law be restricted to Irish licensed hauliers but would have to be extended to all vehicles intended exclusively for the carriage of goods by road with a maximum permissible gross laden weight of not less than 7.5 tonnes, in addition, the rebate would have to include the carriage of passengers by a motor vehicle of category M2 or category M3 as defined in Council Directive 70/156/EEC, the reason he confined the granting of the rebate to licensed road hauliers in Budget 2013 and excluded passenger transport operators from the scheme in view of his statements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56996/12]

 196. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he has sought permission from the EU Commission to introduce an essential users rebate for road haulage operators; the case he has put forward to have haulage operators classed as essential users while excluding passenger transport operators from this classification; if the Commission has not already been notified, if he will consider seeking permission to have passenger transport operators included in the scheme in view of the fact that in addition to excise duty, passenger transport is subject to 23% VAT on fuel which is non refundable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56997/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 128, 148, 157, 162, 172, 173, 189, 195 and 196 together.

The proposal to introduce an auto-diesel excise duty relief for licensed road hauliers that I announced in the Budget is confined to licensed and tax compliant hauliers.

However, I have received a number of submissions from, and on behalf of, private coach operators seeking to have this relief extended to them. I will consider this proposal in the context of the Finance Bill. It is worth noting that one of key arguments for introducing a rebate for the haulage industry is the fact that a large quantity of fuel purchased by this industry is purchased abroad thus generating no tax revenue for the State. A rebate should encourage hauliers to start purchasing their fuel in Ireland thus leading the measure to be more revenue neutral. Such an argument does not exist for the coach industry.

With regard to agriculture contractors, I assume the Deputy is referring to agricultural contractors using machinery designed for agricultural work. Contractors using such machinery in the course of farming work are entitled to use marked gas oil, which is taxed at a much lower rate than auto diesel.

The fuel rebate scheme proposed is governed by the terms of Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 which limits its application to auto diesel used in defined categories of road vehicles. I will be informing the European Commission of the rebate measure once it is introduced.

Property Taxation Exemptions

 129. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the residents of Priory Hall, Dublin, are to be levied with the property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56458/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan It is envisaged that the list of unfinished estates to be prescribed by the Minister to the Environment, Community and Local Government for the purposes of the Local Property Tax will be in line with that used for the purposes of the Household Charge.   Such properties will be exempt from the Local Property Tax.     I am informed by the Department of the Environment that Priory Hall is among the developments listed in S.I. 1 of 2012, and was, accordingly, exempt from the Household Charge on this basis.

Property Taxation Exemptions

 130. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if homeowners whose homes have Pyrite issues will be levied with the property tax. [56459/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Government is conscious of the very real costs and difficulties faced by people whose homes have been affected by pyrite. My colleague the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, has indicated that he considers that houses demonstrated to be subject to a certifiable level of pyritic heave should receive a waiver from the Local Property Tax. I propose to address this issue in the context of the Finance Bill.


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