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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 406-425
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Oireachtas Members' Remuneration
 Header Item Legislative Programme
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Haddington Road Agreement Implementation
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Departmental Functions
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Drainage Schemes Status
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Public Procurement Regulations
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions
 Header Item Action Plan for Jobs

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 406-425

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 406. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the reason a Canadian citizen with a stamp four visa and married to an Irish citizen was deemed not eligible to compete for a temporary clerical position in the public service. [13713/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Posts in the Irish Civil Service are generally open to suitably qualified candidates who are nationals of an EU Member State or the European Economic Area (EEA). Such individuals have the right under the EU Treaties to reside and take up employment in any EEA Member State. Non-EEA citizens do not benefit from these rights and do not automatically qualify to compete for these roles.

From time to time, professional or specialist posts the civil service are advertised where reflecting specific requirements for particular expertise or skills a more flexible approach is taken where the rules of the competition state that applications from non-EEA citizens are welcomed. However, any such candidates are advised that even if successful at interview, an appointment to the post would be contingent on the securing of a work permit.

Stamp 4 denotes and evidences a category of immigration permission to remain in the State (in accordance with the Immigration Act, 2004) that permits the holder to enter employment without the requirement to hold an employment permit issued by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. However, Stamp 4 does not confer Irish citizenship on the holder and does not confer eligibility to compete for posts in the Civil Service.

Flood Prevention Measures

 407. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide an update on progress on supplying structural and physical infrastructure to avoid future flooding in places such as Passage East and Cheekpoint in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13855/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes It is a matter for Waterford County Council in the first instance to investigate and address coastal protection issues generally in the county, including remedial works required on foot of damage from the recent storms.

  The Government decided on 11 February 2014 to make available up to €69.5 million for a programme of repair and remediation works to roads, coastal protection and flood defence and other public infrastructure damaged in the storms from 13th December 2013 to 6th January 2014 based on estimates provided by the local authorities concerned. Of the total amount being made available, up to €19.6 million is available via the Office of Public Works (OPW) for the repair of damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has written to Waterford County Council, indicating, based on the estimate submitted by the Council to that Department, that up to €1,150,000 is being made available to the Council via the OPW to undertake the necessary repair works to damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

  Waterford County Council must submit an overall programme of works to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government detailing how it proposes to spend the total allocation that is being made available to it. It must also submit the relevant elements of the programme to each Department from whom funding will be made available for consideration of technical aspects of the proposed works. When Waterford County Council's programme of coastal protection and flood defence projects is received by the OPW it will be reviewed having regard to related guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the local authorities. The OPW has written to the local authorities indicating that in order to assist them in a practical way and to avoid any potential cash-flow issues, it will consider requests for advance funding of up to 80% of the estimated cost of approved projects where a contract for works has been made.

  With regard to Passage East, the OPW approved funding of €15,000 to the Council in 2012 under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for a flood study. The study is complete and the Council has drawn down the funding. No application for funding was received in relation to Cheekpoint.

Oireachtas Members' Remuneration

 408. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide an individual breakdown of any allowances or payments that are provided to the Whips' offices of the Fine Gael Party, the Fianna Fáil Party and the Dáil Technical Group; the exact amount of remuneration that each Whip individually receives; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13970/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial, Parliamentary, Judicial and Court Offices (Amendment) Act, 1998, as amended, provides that an Order may be made to provide for payment of allowance to holders of certain specified positions in the Oireachtas.

  Statutory Instrument No. 347 of 2011 is the most recent Order providing for such payments and includes provision for payment of an allowance to a member of the Oireachtas holding the position of Party Whip and Assistant Whip in Dáil Éireann, and for similar positions in Seanad Éireann.

  The rates of the allowances have since been reduced in accordance with the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013.  A table setting out the positions with entitlement to an allowance and the current applicable rates is below.  There is no statutory provision for the payment of an allowance to the Whip of the Dáil Technical Group.

  These allowances are paid in addition to the members salaries in respect of their duties as a TD or Senator, which are set at €87,258 and €65,000 respectively.  There are no other payments made specifically in relation to Whips.

PositionAmount
Fianna Fáil Party Whip (Dáil Éireann)€17,480
Sinn Féin Party Whip (Dáil Éireann)€5,520
Assistant Government Whip (Dáil Éireann)€13,800
Fianna Fáil Party Assistant Whip (Dáil Éireann)€8,740
Fine Gael Party Assistant Whip (Dáil Éireann)€6,900
Labour Party Assistant Whip (Dáil Éireann)€5,520
Sinn Féin Party Assistant Whip (Dáil Éireann)€2,760
Government Whip (Seanad Éireann)€2,682
Assistant Government Whip (Seanad Éireann)€792
Fianna Fáil Whip (Seanad Éireann)€2,682
Independent Group of Nominee Senators  Whip€792
Independent Group of University Senators  Whip€792

Legislative Programme

 409. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin when it is proposed to introduce a further Statute Law Revision Bill to repeal outdated laws; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14195/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Statute Law Revision Bill, which it is proposed will deal with secondary legal instruments, is included in the Government Legislation Programme for Spring/Summer Session 2014 published earlier this year with an expected publication date of early-2015. I will be giving further consideration to the planned sequencing and timing of the series of SLRP Bills approved by Government to ensure that it is optimal in light of, for example, the importance of maintaining progress and continuity of the significant work carried out by my Department under the Statute Law Revision Programme.

Flood Prevention Measures

 410. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will make emergency funding available to repair/strengthen the embankment at Incharee, Glenbeigh, County Kerry as homes and properties in the area are continuously at risk to flooding; if he will take into consideration that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; if he will come to the assistance of this community as they cannot any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes and properties from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12895/14]

 411. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will make emergency funding available to repair or strengthen the embankment at Cromane Lower, Killorglin, County Kerry as homes and properties in the area are continuously at risk of flooding; if he will take into consideration that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; if he and the Government will come to the assistance of this community as they can not any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes and properties from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12896/14]

 412. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will make emergency funding available to repair/strengthen the embankment at Glosha, Cromane, Killorglin, County Kerry as homes and properties in the area are continuously at risk to flooding; if he will take into consideration that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; if he and the Government will come to the assistance of this community as they can not any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes and properties from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12897/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 to 412, inclusive, together.

The Government decided on 11 February 2014 to make available up to €69.5 million for a programme of repair and remediation works to roads, coastal protection and flood defence and other public infrastructure damaged in the storms from 13th December 2013 to 6th January 2014 based on estimates provided by the local authorities concerned. Of the total amount being made available, up to €19.6 million is available via the Office of Public Works (OPW) for the repair of damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has written to Kerry County Council, indicating, based on the estimate submitted by the Council to that Department, that up to €1,226,920 is being made available to the Council via the OPW to undertake the necessary repair works to damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

Kerry County Council must submit an overall programme of works to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government detailing how it proposes to spend the total allocation that is being made available to it. It must also submit the relevant elements of the programme to each Department from whom funding will be made available for consideration of technical aspects of the proposed works. When Kerry County Council's programme of coastal protection and flood defence projects is received by the OPW it will be reviewed having regard to related guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the local authorities. The OPW has written to the local authorities indicating that in order to assist them in a practical way and to avoid any potential cash-flow issues, it will consider requests for advance funding of up to 80% of the estimated cost of approved projects where a contract for works has been made.

Public Procurement Contracts

 413. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the extent to which building projects for the State or school building projects can have a provision for a percentage of local labour to be appointed. [12857/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Under EU law, public contracts above certain values must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of location or nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

However, I understand that the European Commission issued guidance in 2010 that identified a range of social considerations that could be relevant for procurement including promoting employment opportunities for young unemployed or long-term unemployed and promoting compliance with core labour standards. This guidance stressed that when incorporating social considerations into the procurement process one of the key challenges is ensuring compliance with the EU Treaty Principles and the Procurement Directives. The EU procurement directives primarily envisage that social considerations may be included as contract performance conditions, provided they are not discriminatory and are included in the contract notice or in the contract documents and relate to the performance of the contract. For example, the EU Directives state that contract performance conditions may be intended to favour on-site vocational training, the employment of people experiencing particular difficulty in achieving integration, the fight against unemployment or the protection of the environment.

Therefore the use of social clauses in public procurement is limited to instances where they are targeted at factoring into the procurement process consideration of social issues such as employment opportunities, equal opportunities and social inclusion.  In order to be compatible with EU law, they must be made known to all interested parties and must not restrict participation by contractors from other Member States.

Challenges arise from the need to ensure that: value for money is not adversely affected; additional costs are not placed on domestic suppliers relative to other potential suppliers; and the targeted benefit is capable of being measured and monitored during execution of the contract.

The inclusion of social clauses in the procurement process would appear to be most suited to situations where the social benefit could be considered a core requirement and can be directly linked to the contracting authority's policy or strategic plan. Experience in other Member States, would also indicate that social clauses will tend to be used for services and works contracts rather than supply contracts.  A further consideration is the ability of contracting authorities to effectively monitor compliance with the social clause; this may be more difficult where some of the work is to be performed in another Member State.

The use of a social clause requiring a contractor to recruit a certain percentage of those employed on a public works construction site from the ranks of the long term unemployed is being piloted on a limited number of schools projects under the Devolved Schools Build Programme Design and Build Framework, which is being administered by the National Development Finance Agency on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  The Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC) last year approved the pilot initiative to be included in the NDFA Devolved Schools Programme.

A framework of contractors has been set up for the Devolved Schools Programme, which consist of a mix of new builds, extensions and some remedial works to existing schools both at a primary and post primary level.  Three contracts were awarded in February off the Devolved Schools Programme.  The projects will be constructed using the public works contract for Building Works designed by the Contractor.  A clause has been included in the contract which requires that 10% of the person weeks worked on the contract be undertaken by individuals recruited from the ranks of the long-term unemployed.  There is also a requirement for 2.5% of the person weeks on the contract to be undertaken by apprentices.

It is important to note that such a provision must be managed carefully both to ensure that the requirements set can be met and monitored but also consideration must be given to their impact on a sector that has experienced decline in output since 2008 as it may result in significant displacement of those already in employment.

The contractor's compliance with this clause under the Devolved Schools Programme will be carefully monitored in accordance with the terms set out in the contract.  Once initial evaluations on the performance of the clause have been undertaken any necessary amendments will be tabled at GCCC before they are incorporated into the PPP element of the Stimulus Programme.

Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

 414. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin further to the workforce restructuring commitment 3.11 of the Haddington Road agreement, if he will provide details of the amalgamation of grades that will take place in 2014. [12920/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In line with the Haddington Road Agreement and in accordance with Action Plan set out in the Government's new Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 - page 79, section 4.2.1(iii) - my Department is currently working to develop options for advancing the objective of grade restructuring as one of a number of actions to strengthen Human Resource Strategy and resourcing policies in the Civil Service. This work is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2014 and no grade amalgamations are planned to take place in advance of the completion of the current review.

Proposals for grade rationalisation and restructuring in other sectors of the Public Service (Health, Education, Local Authorities, Justice Group) are matters for management in the parent Departments concerned. 

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 415. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the reason non EEA citizens cannot apply for Civil Service jobs; his plans to allow anyone in possession of a Stamp 4 visa to apply for any job; and if not the reason for same. [12941/14]

 426. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if non-EEA nationals are eligible to apply for posts in the Civil Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13116/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I propose to take Questions Nos. 415 and 426 together.

Posts in the Irish Civil Service are generally open to suitably qualified candidates who are nationals of an EU Member State or the European Economic Area (EEA).  Such individuals have the right under the EU Treaties to reside and take up employment in any EEA Member State.  Non-EEA citizens do not benefit from these rights and do not automatically qualify to compete for these roles.

From time to time, professional or specialist posts the civil service are advertised where reflecting specific requirements for particular expertise or skills a more flexible approach is taken where the rules of the competition state that applications from non-EEA citizens are welcomed. However, any such candidates are advised that even if successful at interview, an appointment to the post would be contingent on the securing of a work permit.

Stamp 4 denotes and evidences a category of immigration permission to remain in the State (in accordance with the Immigration Act, 2004) that permits the holder to enter employment without the requirement to hold an employment permit issued by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation. However, Stamp 4 does not confer Irish citizenship on the holder so does not confer eligibility to compete for posts in the Civil Service. I have no plans to change the approach in this area.

Departmental Functions

 416. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide an organisational chart detailing officials and their responsibilities in his Department. [12963/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I have asked my officials to provide the Deputy with a copy of an organisational chart for my Department based on data from the Human Resource Management System.

  A comprehensive list of the duties and responsibilities for the Secretary General and officials at Assistant Secretary and Principal Officer level in  the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform is set out in the Framework of Assignments. A link to the latest Framework is available on the Management Chart page of the Department's website at http://www.per.gov.ie/management-chart-2/

  The duties and responsibilities for officials below the grade of Principal Officer are assigned commensurate with the strategic priorities and business needs of the respective divisions within the Department.

Flood Prevention Measures

 417. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will make emergency funding available to repair/strengthen the embankment at Lower Bridge Street, Killorglin, County Kerry as homes, properties and businesses in the area are continuously at risk to flooding; if he will take into consideration that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; and if he will come to the assistance of this community, as they cannot any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes, properties and businesses from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12989/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The River Laune is not a designated channel under an Office of Public Works (OPW) arterial drainage scheme and therefore the OPW is not responsible for its maintenance. The channel is in a Drainage District and its maintenance is the responsibility of Kerry County Council.

The embankment in question, at Lower Bridge Street, is a former Land Commission embankment. As I outlined to the Deputy in my reply to his Parliamentary Question No. 8642 of 20 February this year, the OPW has no legal responsibility for the maintenance of former Land Commission embankments. The only exception to this is when a former Land Commission embankment is incorporated into an OPW flood relief scheme.

The Government decided on 11 February 2014 to make available up to €69.5 million for a programme of repair and remediation works to roads, coastal protection and flood defence and other public infrastructure damaged in the storms from 13th December 2013 to 6th January 2014 based on estimates provided by the local authorities concerned. Of the total amount being made available, up to €19.6 million is available via the Office of Public Works for the repair of damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has written to Kerry County Council, indicating, based on the estimate submitted by the Council to that Department, that up to €1,226,920 is being made available to the Council via the OPW to undertake the necessary repair works to damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

Kerry County Council must submit an overall programme of works to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government detailing how it proposes to spend the total allocation that is being made available to it. It must also submit the relevant elements of the programme to each Department from whom funding will be made available for consideration of technical aspects of the proposed works. When Kerry County Council's programme of coastal protection and flood defence projects is received by the OPW it will be reviewed having regard to related guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the local authorities. The OPW has written to the local authorities indicating that in order to assist them in a practical way and to avoid any potential cash-flow issues, it will consider requests for advance funding of up to 80% of the estimated cost of approved projects where a contract for works has been made.

Drainage Schemes Status

 418. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will remove the large bank of gravel in the middle of the Laune River, in the vicinity of Laune Bridge, Killorglin, County Kerry as homes, properties and businesses in the area are continuously at risk to flooding; if he will take into consideration that experts are saying this is one of the main reasons for flooding in the area and the fact that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; if he will come to the assistance of this community, as they cannot any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes, properties and businesses from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12998/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The River Laune is not a designated channel under an Office of Public Works (OPW) arterial drainage scheme and therefore the OPW is not responsible for its maintenance. The channel is in a Drainage District and its maintenance is the responsibility of Kerry County Council.

If the flooding problem in the location mentioned is due to a lack of maintenance by the Council then the OPW would not be in a position to approve funding to the Council under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme to address this. However, if the flooding problem is due to factors other than lack of maintenance and the Council can demonstrate this clearly then the Council may apply for funding to address this problem under the Minor Works Scheme. Any application received will be assessed under the eligibility criteria, which include a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding. Any work for which funding is sought will be carried out by the Local Authority. It is also open to Kerry County Council to carry out flood mitigation works using its own resources.

Flood Prevention Measures

 419. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will make emergency funding available to repair/strengthen the embankment at Ballymacprior, Killorglin, County Kerry as homes and properties in the area are continuously at risk to flooding; if he will take into consideration that the next high tides are forecast for the end of March; if he will come to the assistance of this community, as they cannot any longer afford the cost of protecting their homes and properties from tidal flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13002/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The Office of Public Works (OPW) has no statutory responsibility for any embankments at Ballymacprior, Killorglin, County Kerry.

The Government decided on 11 February 2014 to make available up to €69.5 million for a programme of repair and remediation works to roads, coastal protection and flood defence and other public infrastructure damaged in the storms from 13th December 2013 to 6th January 2014 based on estimates provided by the local authorities concerned. Of the total amount being made available, up to €19.6 million is available via the OPW for the repair of damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has written to Kerry County Council, indicating, based on the estimate submitted by the Council to that Department, that up to €1,226,920 is being made available to the Council via the OPW to undertake the necessary repair works to damaged coastal protection and flood defence infrastructure.

Kerry County Council must submit an overall programme of works to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government detailing how it proposes to spend the total allocation that is being made available to it. It must also submit the relevant elements of the programme to each Department from whom funding will be made available for consideration of technical aspects of the proposed works. When Kerry County Council's programme of coastal protection and flood defence projects is received by the OPW it will be reviewed having regard to related guidance issued by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the local authorities. The OPW has written to the local authorities indicating that in order to assist them in a practical way and to avoid any potential cash-flow issues, it will consider requests for advance funding of up to 80% of the estimated cost of approved projects where a contract for works has been made.

Public Procurement Regulations

 420. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the measures in place within his Department to ensure that at tendering and final procurement stages only notified biocides as set out under SI No. 625 of 2001, are purchased by his Department; if he will confirm that only notified biocides are currently being purchased by their respective agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13013/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I understand that the legislation referred to by the Deputy (Biocidal Products Directive 98/8/EC) transposed by S.I. 625 / 2001 has now been revoked and replaced by the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR, Regulation EU 528/2012). This Regulation has been transposed by S.I. 427 / 2013 - European Union (Biocidal Products) Regulations 2013. My colleague Mr Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine has policy responsibility this area.

I should point out that Contracting Authorities carrying out tender processes are responsible for ensuring compliance with all national and international legislation that is relevant to the particular procurement being carried out by that public body.

My Department does not procure biocides directly. However, I am aware that biocides can be found in a number of products that would include some cleaning products. In this regard, I am informed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) that the current framework contract for janitorial products contract stipulates that: "All items and materials supplied under the contract shall conform to current requirements as set out in EU Regulations and Directives"; furthermore, Clause 1.4 of the contract states that the supplier must "supply the goods in accordance with good industry practice and comply with all applicable laws " In addition, the forthcoming OGP national competition for the supply of cleaning products and supplies will stipulate that all products supplied which are described as Biocidal must conform to this and all other applicable legislation.

Flood Prevention Measures

 421. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the steps being taken by the Office of Public Works to ensure greater coordination between all relevant parties, including local authorities, Government agencies, local communities, insurance industry and other community organisations, when working to reduce flood risk and improve flood prevention measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13023/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The Office of Public Works (OPW) as the lead agency for flood risk management works closely with a wide range of other agencies and relevant parties to ensure a high level of co-ordination, co-operation and consultation in addressing flood risk nationally.

One significant area of co-operation is in relation to the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme which the OPW is currently undertaking with its technical consultants and in partnership with local and regional authorities and other key stakeholders including Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the ESB and the Environmental Protection Agency. The CFRAM Programme is a strategic approach that recognises the need, in line with international best practice, to move to a more sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to dealing with flooding problems. The Programme involves comprehensive co-ordination and consultation structures such as:

- a high level National CFRAM Steering Group to provide guidance on the overall direction of the CFRAM Programme and comprising representatives from a number of relevant Government Departments and Agencies, as well as from the County and City Manager’s Association;

- a National CFRAM Stakeholder Group with representatives from organisational stakeholders with a national level of interest or coverage to provide a forum to inform such stakeholders of progress and the direction of the Programme and for these stakeholders to provide input to the Programme and;

- at the level of the specific CFRAM projects, Steering Groups and Progress Groups with representatives of the OPW, relevant Regional and Local Authorities, the EPA and, for cross-border (International) River Basin Districts, the Rivers Agency of Northern Ireland.

The CFRAM Programme also involves a significant engagement with communities and the public whereby the draft flood maps produced under the CFRAM will be subject to both informal and formal public consultation processes. A similar level of detailed consultation with the public is involved in the development and implementation of OPW flood defence schemes with such scheme proposals being placed on formal Public Exhibition where the public are given the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

On an ongoing basis, the OPW liaises with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in relation to the protection of wildlife and habitats in the context of flood defence works and with Waterways Ireland and the ESB in relation to water management protocols on the Shannon, Lee and Liffey. The OPW also works closely with Inland Fisheries Ireland on an Environmental River Enhancement Programme and has concluded a Service Level Agreement with that body covering the period 2013 – 2017.

The OPW is working closely with the insurance industry and has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Insurance Ireland on the format and protocols for the provision of information to the industry on completed OPW major flood defence schemes with a view to improving the availability of flood insurance cover in areas where the OPW, or local authorities with OPW funding, have carried out such schemes.

Departmental Reports

 422. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the number of external or internal policy reports currently that have been handed to him but not yet published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13036/14]

 423. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin when he will publish reports currently in his possession that have not been published to date; if he will outline in tabular form the reports involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13053/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I propose to take Questions Nos. 422 and 423 together.

  In response to the Deputy's question I can confirm that with the exception of the Debt Management Review conducted by Bearing Point, the publication of which is subject to Government approval, there are no other external or internal  reports for publication by this Department that have been handed to me but not yet published.

Public Sector Pensions

 424. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will extend the public sector retirement deadline of August 2014 as set out in the Haddington Road agreement providing for a grace period for pensions in payment to be calculated on pre-agreement salaries; and the measures he will put in place to ensure the retirements are targets. [13065/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 10411/14 on 3 March 2014. The position remains unchanged.

Action Plan for Jobs

 425. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if the proposed working group on the public procurement opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises has been established, as per action 241 of the Action Plan for Jobs; if it has not been established, will its establishment be hastened in view of the recent comments by Professor Morgan Kelly on the precarious situation facing these entities over the coming period; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13177/14]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I can confirm that Action 241 of the Action Plan on Jobs (to establish a working group comprised of SME stakeholders that will examine ways to improve SME access to public procurement opportunities) was completed in January 2014. The group held its first meeting at the end of January. The group will examine procurement policy and its implementation with a view to improving SME access to procurement opportunities.

  In relation to the broader issue of creating the right environment for SMEs, I welcome the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs which aims to build on the significant progress which has occurred in job-creation since the first Action Plan was launched in February 2012, with 61,000 extra jobs added to the year-end 2013. According to Live Register figures produced by the Central Statistics Office, the unemployment rate has declined for 19 consecutive months, declining from 15.1% in February 2012 to 12.3% in January 2014.

  In order to actively assist job growth, my Department is committed to maximising procurement opportunities. The public sector has an immense purchasing power, spending in the region of €8.5 billion per annum on goods and services in addition to expenditure on public works.  This level of expenditure by the public sector affords significant business opportunities for firms that can supply the products and services that are required by public bodies.

  The Government is committed to reforming the public procurement process and has established an Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to drive a new consolidated and integrated approach to public procurement. The OGP is reviewing and updating the public procurement guidelines to reiterate that it is the Government intention that SMEs should be encourage to participate as fully as possible in the public procurement process. We will continue to support Irish companies seeking to participate in procurement contracts overseas; and encourage a wider approach to purchasing innovative solutions to meet public sector needs.


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