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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 61-80
 Header Item Water Conservation Grant Applications
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item Disability Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Insurance Coverage
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Urban Renewal Schemes
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Status
 Header Item Flood Prevention Measures
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions
 Header Item IDA Data
 Header Item Import Costs
 Header Item Work Permits Applications
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Dairy Equipment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Payments

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 900 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 67 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 61-80

Water Conservation Grant Applications

 61. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will accept a late application for the water conservation grant as the person was not aware of the closing date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [44354/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The eligibility criteria for the Water Conservation Grant are set out in the Water Services Act 2014 Water Conservation Grant) Regulations 2015. Under regulation 5(1) a person who registers with Irish Water, as required under section 5(2)(a) of the Water Services Act 2014, on or before 30 June 2015 shall be eligible to receive the grant in 2015 if they were normally resident at the principal private residence on that date.

To date Irish Water has transferred details of over 1.3 million registered households to this Department. A letter issued to those householders at the address given inviting them to apply for the grant before the deadline of 8 October 2015 and advising them that they could make this application either online or with the assistance of the Water Grant Support Team by telephone. Statutory Instrument 434 of 2015 provided for the extension of the deadline for the submission of a completed application for the Water Conservation Grant to the Department of Social Protection from 8 October 2015 to 22 October 2015. A nationwide campaign utilising press, radio and social media to promote information on the grant was conducted. This campaign extensively advertised the eligibility criteria, the application process and the original and extended deadlines. Late applications for the grant cannot be accepted.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 62. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the status of an entitlement to the Christmas bonus for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44397/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I wish to advise you that there were no changes to illness benefit in the recent budget announcement. Illness benefit is classed as a short term payment so the award of a Christmas bonus does not apply.

The Department of Social Protection legislation provides that illness benefit can be paid for a maximum of 104 weeks (624 pay days) in respect of claims made from January 2009 onwards. As the person concerned was in receipt of illness benefit prior to 2009 they held their entitlement to illness benefit.

Disability Allowance Appeals

 63. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when the appeal of an application under the disability allowance scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be paid, if this payment will include the Christmas bonus; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44398/15]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The person in question has been awarded a disability allowance payment with effect from 29 October 2014. First payment will be made by his chosen payment method on 30 December 2015.

Arrears of DA due will issue in due course once any necessary adjustment is made in respect of other overlapping payments the person was getting in the interim and/or in respect of outstanding overpayment. I can confirm that the gross DA arrears due, i.e. before adjustment, will include the 2014 and 2015 Christmas bonuses.

  Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 53.

Insurance Coverage

 65. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the steps he is taking to ensure home insurance companies provide better information to customers in order that they are in a better position to provide an accurate figure for buildings sums insured, as the current lack of information can often lead to persons being over-insured; the regulatory changes he proposes in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44338/15]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In my role as Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. 

  I have consulted with the Central Bank of Ireland and Insurance Ireland on this issue.   The Central Bank has advised that there are no statutory requirements on insurance companies to provide information to customers on the calculation of rebuilding costs. The Central Bank also stated that it is unaware of any systemic issue around the over-insurance of property. 

  Insurance Ireland has stated that insurance companies have always advised their customers that they should insure their homes for the rebuilding cost and not the market value.  Also, insurance companies advise policyholders at renewal date to check their sums insured for both buildings and contents to avoid over and under insuring.   Both the insurance companies and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (www.consumerhelp.ie) advise consumers to consult with the "Guide to House Rebuilding Costs" by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (https://www.scsi.ie) which includes a cost calculator to assist them in estimating rebuild costs.

Tax Yield

 66. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the income generated from the extension of betting duty to online bets to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44257/15]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the duty generated to date from the remote sector, including from betting intermediaries, is €3.3 million. As the Deputy is aware, this provision only commenced 1 August 2015, and this amount relates to the two months that have been returnable so far.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 67. 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 number of staff within his Department earning over €100,000 by grade in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44266/15]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of staff within my Department earning over €100,000 in 2014 is as follows:

GradeNumber
Secretary General
Second Secretary
Assistant Secretary 
Principal Officer
Total15


  All of these salaries are in line with Government pay policy.

Tax Code

 68. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if it is standard practise for the Revenue Commissioners to issue the detailed calculations of a person's income to be included with the self-assessment notice of assessment, even if the net income of that person is below €2,000. [44304/15]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, from 2013, a taxpayer must self-assess when submitting his or her return of income.  Self-assessment is where a taxpayer makes his or her own assessment to income tax or capital gains tax as appropriate.  Prior to 2013, Revenue raised the assessment based on a person's income or capital gains on the basis of the information entered by them in the income tax return.

Where a taxpayer completes an income tax return on Revenue's Online Service (ROS); the online system provides a detailed calculation of the person's indicative liability based on the information on income, allowances, etc. that was included in the tax return.  The indicative calculation of income tax, USC and PRSI was introduced to assist taxpayers in making their self-assessment, and meeting their legal obligations.  

I am further advised by the Commissioners that for 2015 and subsequent years, where a taxpayer files a return on ROS and accepts Revenue's indicative calculation as their self-assessed liability, Revenue will attach a copy of this calculation with the acknowledgement of the self-assessment. 

In relation to the situation where a person's net non-PAYE income is below €3,174, that person may contact Revenue to have their tax credits reduced to take account of this non-PAYE income.  Where this can be done, the taxpayer will not be considered a 'chargeable person' and will not need to file a Form 11 nor make a self-assessment. The Deputy may wish to note that I have made provision in this year's Finance Bill to increase this limit from €3,174 to €5,000 for 2016 and subsequent years.

Flood Prevention Measures

 69. Deputy Joe Costello Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will ensure that the Office of Public Works dredges the Tolka river from the Luke Kelly bridge to the sea to protect against future floods in Clonliffe, Ballybough, North Strand and East Wall in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44290/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The River Tolka has a history of flooding following heavy rainfall, which has been well documented after major flood events in 1954 and subsequent years. The river has been the subject of a number of investigations, and of most significance were those carried out in 1955 and 1986. Severe flooding from the Tolka River and its tributaries occurred in the Dublin City, Meath and Fingal areas in November 2000 and November 2002.

In July 2001 Dublin City Council commissioned the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study (GDSDS), a multi-million euro engineering study of the strategic drainage requirements of the Greater Dublin area. A full study of the Tolka was not included in the GDSDS. In view of the November 2000 flood the OPW requested that it be included.

The Tolka River Flooding Study was underway when the November 2002 flood occurred. The consultants were asked to produce Interim Reports for all three local authorities concerned (Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council and Meath County Council) to identify works that could be undertaken straight away to reduce the risk of flooding in the worst affected areas. The Final Report on the Tolka was completed in November 2003 and this brought together many of the recommendations contained in the Interim Reports and also much additional information, which provided the basis for further decisions in relation to the catchment as a whole. As a result of the Interim Reports, works began in the Dublin City and County Meath areas in 2003 and were largely finished by 2009.

Works carried out in the Dublin City Council area included: new walls and embankments, replacement footbridge, widening of banks, lowering of Distillery Weir, scour damage repair and general channel maintenance. Responsibility for the maintenance of this scheme rests with Dublin City Council.

Urban Renewal Schemes

 70. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his views on proposals unveiled in the Capital Investment Plan 2016-2021 to develop and regenerate Waterford city's north quays to support jobs and tourism in the region; the timeframe for delivery; the estimated Exchequer funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44292/15]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In the context of finalising the capital plan entitled "Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021", there were discussions on proposals to develop and regenerate Waterford City North Quays, to support jobs and tourism in the region.  I committed in the Plan that support will be provided under the Exchequer Programme for this development when details are finalised.   

As of yet, as I understand it, there is no finalised plan for the regeneration project in question, which continues to be a work in progress.  However, once finalised, as committed in the Capital Plan, support will be provided through the Vote of the relevant Government Department to progress the initiative - if necessary, in the context of the mid-term review of the programme.  However, in terms of the details of the project to be implemented, or the timeframe for delivery, my Department has no direct role in the selection or implementation of individual projects within the overall capital programme - which are matters for the relevant Government Department with responsibility for the initiative in question, and/or their agencies.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

 71. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin when a contractor to the Foynes flood relief scheme will be appointed, if all relevant stakeholders to the project have been consulted; the statutory and public agencies that have been engaged with; their position in the provision of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44322/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The provision of flood defences in Foynes is being undertaken by Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) with funding from the Office of Public Works (OPW). The Council has developed a scheme which has been approved under Part Viii of the Planning and Development Regulations. The Council is currently progressing the procurement of a civil works contractor to undertake the scheme works and is expecting to appoint a contractor shortly. The Scheme is expected to be completed in the summer of 2016.

The Council received approval for the Scheme following completion of a Part VIII process and it has confirmed that it consulted with the relevant bodies as required under that planning process.

The OPW has confirmed approval to LCCC of funding for the scheme.

Flood Prevention Measures

 72. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin further to Parliamentary Question No. 67 of 11 November 2015, his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding flood relief schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44384/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My previous reply to this question sought to explain that the design of OPW funded flood relief schemes including the design height of any flood defence walls included as part of the schemes must satisfy the required standard to provide protection against the 1 in 100 year flood event in the case of rivers and the 1 in 200 year event in the case of coastal or tidal flooding. This is a fundamental requirement but, subject to this, the OPW has regard also, as appropriate, to the appearance of the flood defence structures included in schemes especially in scenic locations.

Public Sector Pensions

 73. Deputy Gabrielle McFadden Information on Gabrielle McFadden Zoom on Gabrielle McFadden asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his views on the concerns of the Alliance of Retired Public Servants that while legislation provides for gradual restoration of pensions from 2016 to 2018 to 65,000 public service pensioners, there is no end in sight for the remaining 25,000 pensioners who continue to have their pensions reduced under emergency powers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44400/15]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I refer to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 185 of 8 December 2015.

IDA Data

 74. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if, when and where the Industrial Development Agency Ireland plans to open new offices outside Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44269/15]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton IDA Ireland has informed me that its current footprint of offices is aligned with its new strategy. There are no plans to open any further overseas offices at this time.

  IDA Ireland’s overseas offices are opened in specific locations globally depending on the business requirements of the organisation and in those locations best suited to sourcing Foreign Direct Investment.

  In recent years IDA has increased its international presence through the expansion of existing offices in the US and the development of new offices/representatives in France, China, Russia and Brazil, as part of a significant redeployment of personnel to its overseas activities from elsewhere in IDA.

  In total, IDA Ireland has 22 overseas offices in locations in Europe, North America, India and Asia and has a presence in Brazil, Russia, Australia and Taiwan.

Import Costs

 75. Deputy Joe Costello Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the quantity of goods that was imported into Ireland from Western Sahara in each of the past five years; why Ireland is importing goods from Western Sahara considering its occupation by Morocco is contrary to international law and considering the indigenous population does not benefit from this trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44288/15]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Information from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on imports of goods from Western Sahara is only available as follows:

Imports into Ireland from Western Sahara

2013

(€ 000)
2014

(€ 000)
Jan-Sep 2014

(€ 000)
Jan-Sep 2015

(€ 000)
161
214
102
328
  The data from the CSO indicates that the imports from Western Sahara are primarily in the category of Miscellaneous manufactured article.  This accounted for 91% (or €194,000) of imports in 2014.

  Trade sanctions on imports of goods from outside the EU are a foreign policy matter, decided upon by the EU and applied directly through EU regulation. The role of my Department, in regard to any such sanctions on goods, is to ensure compliance with the relevant EU regulations. As regards Western Sahara, the EU has not adopted any such trade sanctions.

Work Permits Applications

 76. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 182 of 24 November 2015 and the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow, if the review will be undertaken on foot of this parliamentary question; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44363/15]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In this instance, an Employment Permit was sought for the position of Shop Assistant, which is on the Ineligible Categories of Employment List. The application was refused and the applicant chose not to seek a review of this decision within the statutory timeframe (which has expired), instead indicating that she would like a refund of the fee. This request is currently being processed.

Departmental Agencies Staff Recruitment

 77. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 104 of 26 November 2015 wherein he states that he received only one request from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for additional staff, why he did not report on the request for seven additional staff which was made in 2014; the reason for the delay in approving these critical staff given that recruitment has only started this month; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44426/15]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In my reply to Question 104 of 26 November 2015 information was included regarding the request for seven additional staff, namely six Professional Accountants as well as an additional Higher Executive Officer with IT expertise to the ODCE.

While the Director of Corporate Enforcement is statutorily independent in the exercise of his or her functions, staffing of the ODCE, as with any business unit of my Department is made in line with Government policy. In recent years that policy was governed by the recruitment Moratorium aimed at reducing staff numbers in the Civil and Public Service as part of reducing the Exchequer pay bill. During the lifetime of the Moratorium, sanction of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was required for any recruitment and the Employment Control Framework (ECF) set maximum numbers in the Department’s employment (including the Agencies under our aegis) year on year. In that context, my Department engaged with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on sanctioning the filling of key vacancies within the ECF/Moratorium framework, including in respect of the ODCE. Nonetheless, the respective managements of each Office, including the ODCE, have had to reconfigure their organisations and adapt to a constrained-resources environment in continuing to deliver their mandates.

There are always competing demands on limited Exchequer resources. Strategic deployment of limited resources in response to Workforce Planning reviews, ongoing prioritising and reprioritising of work and advocating for key or mission-critical posts to be filled to enable my Department meet its current mission were, and remain the key tools at my Department’s disposal regarding staffing resources. However, the level of resources available to my Department and/or any Office or Agency is only one element of its capacity to deliver. How those resources are managed, deployed and developed is as important as the level of resources available.

The request for the seven additional posts for the ODCE was first registered in my Department’s HR Unit in late 2013 as identified in my Reply to the earlier Question from Deputy Shortall. Sanction was received in late 2014 to allow the filling of certain mission-critical posts across my Department, including the seven posts for the ODCE on foot of my Department’s efforts to meet its ECF obligations.

In the context of the ODCE staffing requirements being a subset of my Department’s overall Workforce Planning considerations and the Department securing its delegated sanction on staffing matters as of June 2015, my Department has been working diligently to fill mission-critical vacancies, including the 7 posts for the ODCE. In that regard my Department has worked with the ODCE and subsequently with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) to identify the requirements of the respective ODCE posts in order for PAS to initiate the appropriate open recruitment competition which culminated in the public advertisement placed recently in the media and on publicjobs.ie. As the deadline for applications to fill the Professional Accountants/Investigator posts is 17 December, we will soon thereafter be able to move to the selection and appointment process such that the additional staff would be in post early in 2016.

Dairy Equipment Scheme Applications

 78. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary will be approved for a grant under the dairy equipment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44263/15]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Interest in TAMS to date has exceeded expectations and clearly many Irish farmers are looking once again at the benefits of investing in their enterprises and expanding production. Under the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme a total of 520 applications have been received with over 200 of these applying for dairy investments while over a thousand applications have been submitted for the Dairy Equipment Scheme.

All applications received are being examined and approvals will commence when all of the required checks have been undertaken. This is a complex process and as all applications for TAMS 2 must be made under a tranche-based approach, we are required to evaluate, rank and assess all applications received together. Applications cannot be approved individually or on a rolling basis as they are submitted.

It is anticipated that approvals will commence shortly and will continue throughout December and into the New Year. Every effort is being made to facilitate approvals in cases where milking equipment is urgently required.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

 79. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of an application under the single payment scheme by persons (details supplied) in County Limerick; if all payments will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44264/15]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The persons named submitted a 2015 Transfer of Allocation Right and Reference Value application to my Department to transfer the entitlement allocation and value to a Registered Farm Partnership. This application has been processed and payment will issue shortly. An official from my Department has been in contact with the persons named to outline the position in relation to their application and the date payment can be expected.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

 80. Deputy Noel Coonan Information on Noel Coonan Zoom on Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a payment under the single payment scheme and the disadvantaged areas scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44295/15]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2015 Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme was received from the person named on 29 May 2015. Processing of this application is currently ongoing, with a view to finalising for payment at the earliest possible date.

My Department also received a 2015 Transfer of Entitlement Allocation Right and Reference Value application from the person named. As the name on the herd number quoted above had changed from another person to the person named after the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme application was submitted, it was necessary for the person named to complete and submit a Declaration of Undertaking form. This form has been received by my Department, the case is being processed and payment under the Basic Payment Scheme will issue shortly.


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