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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 63 - 69
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions
 Header Item Irish Water Funding
 Header Item Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits
 Header Item Human Rights Issues
 Header Item Passport Applications

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 63 - 69

Property Taxation Exemptions

 63. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason his Department refused to add four unfinished estates in County Wexford (details supplied) to its list of unfinished housing estates to be exempt from the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27982/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan An exemption from the local property tax applies to developments listed in the schedule to the Finance (Local Property Tax) Regulations 2013. The list of unfinished housing developments eligible for the exemption was compiled by local authorities utilising the categorisation employed for the purposes of the National Housing Survey 2012. The Survey was carried out over the course of summer 2012 by my Department in conjunction with local authorities and the Housing Agency.

The categorisation methodology for the survey was different to that which was used in 2011 and which provided the basis for the waiver from the household charge. That earlier categorisation related largely to the level of on-site activity at the time the 2011 survey was carried out and had less to do with the physical character of a development. The 2012 survey was based purely and objectively on the actual state of completion of a development and established that there were 1,700 unfinished developments, with 1,100 of them deemed to be in a seriously problematic condition. This represents a 37% reduction in unfinished developments since 2010.

Only developments that were deemed by local authorities to be in a “seriously problematic condition”, regardless of whether a developer was on or off site, were included in the LPT regulations. For purposes of preparing the final list of developments to which the exemption from the local property tax would apply local authorities were asked by my Department to confirm or update the then existing list of estates in a “seriously problematic condition” as appropriate.   

  In relation to the developments listed in the question, the local authority included those areas in the Bridgemeadows and Riverchapel Woods developments which were in a seriously problematic condition in their return to my Department and an exemption from the Local Property Tax applies. Neither Glen Aoibhinn nor Aylesbridge were deemed by the local authority to be in a seriously problematic condition and accordingly they were not recommended for inclusion on the final list of developments.

  Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 39.

Irish Water Funding

 65. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the other sources of funding that are available to Irish Water apart from the National Pensions Reserve Fund, public Exchequer and borrowing on the commercial market; and the way it will access this funding. [28067/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd The creation of Irish Water as a public utility, in a regulated environment, together with the introduction of domestic water charges, will allow for the building of a more sustainable and a fair funding model for the water sector in the future. The introduction of economic regulation will, inter alia, ensure that the funding certainty provided by stable and transparent regulation will help Irish Water secure third party funding to underpin increased investment and position it to become self-financing in time.

It is envisaged that in addition to funding from other sources, the State will provide financial support to Irish Water, the amount of which will be determined as part of the budgetary process.

Dormant Accounts Fund Deposits

 66. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the net inflow of funds from dormant accounts in the years 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28055/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Under the Dormant Accounts legislation, balances on dormant accounts with banks, building societies and An Post and the net encashment value of certain life assurance policies are paid into the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The primary purpose of the legislation is to reunite the original account holders with their moneys, including all interest due. In addition, the legislation also provides that disbursements from the fund may be made for charitable purposes or for purposes of community benefit.

  The net inflows into the Dormant Accounts Fund for the years 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 are €10.5m, €18.4m and €34.04m respectively. Further details of all inflows etc. can be found in tabular form on www.environ.ie. under the Dormant Accounts section of Community and Voluntary Supports.

  Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 61.

Human Rights Issues

 68. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has conveyed his position on the incidences of violence perpetrated by the police forces in Turkey, in which three persons have died and many more have been injured, to the Turkish Ambassador; if he intends to pursue the matter with his EU counterparts in relation to the forthcoming decision on the regional policy chapter of the acquis to which Turkey's accession process is due to turn; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28114/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I would draw the Deputy’s attention to my response yesterday to questions posed on the current situation in Turkey. I support the call by High Representative Ashton that it is essential that all violence stops and that all cases of excessive use of force by the police are recognised as such and investigated promptly, and that those responsible are held fully accountable. Ireland has long been supportive of Turkish EU membership and one of our EU Presidency priorities is to reinvigorate the accession process with Turkey, including by way of trying to open a negotiation Chapter, the last having been opened three years ago. We remain committed to this objective. Our support is influenced by a number of factors including the exercising through the accession perspective of a positive influence on reforms. EU-inspired reforms have, in fact, facilitated the increasing space for peaceful protest and dissenting voices. Turkey as a candidate for membership of the EU is expected to uphold the democratic values of the EU. The accession process provides a framework for ensuring Turkey’s full commitment to and guarantee of human rights and fundamental freedoms for the benefits of all the citizens of the country, without discrimination. It is for this reason that we remain committed to advancing Turkey’s EU accession negotiations as the most effective means of encouraging democratic reforms in line with EU norms. When I met the Turkish Foreign Minister last month at the EU-Turkey Association Council, I encouraged him to further improve the observance of fundamental rights and freedoms, including in areas such as freedom of expression.

Passport Applications

 69. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the reason in a situation where the High Court has sanctioned a change of a foster child's name to that of the fostering family's name the Passport Office will not issue the passport in their new name as per change in the High Court and deed poll. [28119/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore This question refers to a case where a child is in full care of the HSE under Section 18(1) of the Child Care Act 1991. This child has been named in that Care Order using the name on their Birth Certificate as this is the child’s legal name. For a Passport to be issued to a child in a name other the one recorded on the Birth Certificate and Court Order, the written consent of the birth parent or a subsequent Court order authorising the Passport office to issue a Passport in the new name is sought. I note that the child in question is not far off her 18th birthday. For this reason I would advise the applicant to contact Ms. Fiona Penollar, Head of the Molesworth Street Office in Dublin, to see how we can advance the processing of this application in these exceptional circumstances.


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