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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 582-603
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data
 Header Item Zero-hour Contracts
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Foreign Direct Investment
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Work Permits Eligibility
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Business Regulation
 Header Item Local Enterprise Offices Data
 Header Item Credit Guarantee Scheme
 Header Item State Aid
 Header Item IDA Ireland Portfolio
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Services
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Data
 Header Item Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 582-603

Brexit Issues

 582. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which she has managed to secure assurances throughout the EU and beyond regarding the need for expanded market access through fair competition in the aftermath of Brexit, especially as it impacts the Border region and counties Sligo and Leitrim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14990/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor European competition policy is developed from two central rules set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Article 101 of the Treaty prohibits anticompetitive agreements and practices between two or more independent market operators such as cartel behaviour, which may involve price-fixing and/or market sharing.

Article 102 of the Treaty prohibits the abuse of a dominance position. The Competition Act 2002 as amended closely reflects these provisions in Irish law and this legal situation will continue after Brexit.

More generally, the European Commission is empowered by the Treaty to apply these rules and has a number of investigative powers (e.g. inspection at business and non-business premises, written requests for information, etc.) and may impose fines on undertakings which violate the EU rules. It works closely with Member States where anti-competitive practices are alleged to be taking place cross border or in more than one Member State to bring about an end to such practices.

The purpose of competition law is to protect and benefit consumers. Greater competition provides good value for consumers, stimulates business, and enhances the economy as a whole while anti-competitive behaviour results in consumers paying higher prices without any extra benefits and undermines the competitiveness of the Irish economy. The greatest harm comes from cartel type activity including price-fixing, which deprives consumers of the benefits of vigorous competition on price, service and innovation. Such activity is characterised by hidden costs and higher prices.

It is too early to say what impact Brexit may have on the UK’s regulatory and competition environment. Provisions on State Aids and competition policy are a common feature of EU Free Trade Agreements to ensure any aid granted by authorities to private entities does not distort competition.  The terms of any future free trade agreement, including state aid rules, would be a matter for the EU 27 and the UK to agree as part of any negotiation.

From a regional perspective, the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 includes a series of collaborative actions aimed at stimulating regional growth, including the progression, monitoring and support of the eight Regional Action Plans for Jobs, which aims to realise the national Action Plan’s regional employment targets.

The North East/North West Plan aims to support the creation of 28,000 jobs across Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth by 2020. Sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism.

The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is stimulating job creation across the region, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds awarded through Enterprise Ireland, to support regional enterprise projects.

There has been a substantial improvement in the North East / North West region since the commencement of the National Action Plan for Jobs in 2012, with an additional 23,000 in employment in Q4 2016 compared to Q1 2012. Moreover, there are now almost 6,800 more people in work in the region since the launch of the Regional Action Plan initiative.

My Department is providing additional funds through the agencies out to 2020. For example, together with Enterprise Ireland, I am currently finalising plans for a regional initiative of up to €60m to support collaborative approaches to grow and sustain jobs across the regions, and to encourage each county to reach its full potential.

Brexit Issues

 583. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the extent to which her attention has been drawn to the possibility of a global trade war; the extent to which the economy can be protected in such a situation, especially the Border region and counties Sligo and Leitrim, in the wake of trade complications with Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14991/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I am well aware of the shifting and evolving global challenges which may affect trade and investment in the future.  Understanding the needs of business in their drive to succeed is and will continue to be fundamental to Ireland’s economic success and especially in these times of global challenge.

No open economy like ours can be fully shielded against global impacts.  I am confident however that we have the right policies to build resilience where possible and firmly strengthen our competitiveness and innovative capacity, thus ensuring the economy is properly positioned to meet any external challenges.

Promoting cross-border trade in light of the potential impacts of Brexit is a key priority for the Government as a whole.  It is, of course, hard to predict at this stage what the impact of Brexit will be for all of Ireland, including the border counties.  Much will depend on the nature of the deal that will be negotiated between the UK and the EU. These negotiations are likely to be complex and multifaceted.  This Government will seek, during that process, to highlight our unique economic ties with Northern Ireland.

It is clear that the cross-border market on the island is a particularly important one for SMEs, with nearly two thirds of Northern Ireland small firm exports going South and one sixth of Ireland’s small firm exports going North.  Inter Trade Ireland has undertaken a series of events for SMEs to raise awareness of Brexit issues, with more planned.  They have published information material for their companies setting out key challenges posed by Brexit.  Further initiatives by Inter Trade Ireland on this issue are also being developed for roll out later this year.

I am engaged strongly with Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to ensure that Irish jobs are maintained and created with a particular focus on regional targets.  Enterprise Ireland is working with its 1,500 clients who export to the UK, looking at the individual challenges faced by companies in every county in Ireland and also on a sectoral level, as some sectors are more exposed than others.  Enterprise Ireland also consistently works with client companies focussing on enhancing their competitiveness, capability and levels of innovation to assist them to diversify into new markets.

I am in constant communication with these agencies, and chair a Brexit Coordination Group, which includes the senior management of my Department and the CEOs of the agencies.  As part of the Government’s ongoing dialogue with interested parties, I organised an important stakeholder engagement event on the 30th of January, in Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim to hear the views of stakeholders, both directly and through representative bodies.

The Government has just published a new Trade Strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World which supports an extensive programme of Ministerial-led trade missions, as part of a major drive towards market diversification - promoting diversified export markets in light of the potential impacts of Brexit is a key priority for my Department. This includes markets that are growing and have scale as well as markets where we are already well established but with potential for further growth.  The programme of trade missions and trade events for 2017 includes a substantive focus on the EU and third country markets.  In 2017 we have 42 Minister led trade missions to existing and emerging markets. These have been reorientated to reflect an increased focus on EU markets.

The EU’s suite of Free Trade Agreements with third Countries helps to open new markets, break down barriers and provide new opportunities for Irish firms.  These existing EU Agreements and new trade deals will continue to be important for Ireland.  With a small domestic market, further expansion in other markets is essential to our continued economic growth.

Protected Disclosures Data

 584. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the process within her Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15078/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor My Department is committed to fostering an appropriate environment for addressing concerns and supporting workers in speaking out about potential wrongdoing in the workplace.  The Department’s Protected Disclosures policy outlines the process in place for dealing with protected disclosures under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.  The policy provides, inter alia, that a worker, as defined in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, may make a protected disclosure within the Department to the Head of a Business Unit (Principal Officer equivalent), the Head of a Division, any other member of the Management Board, or to the Head of Management Support Unit (Principal Officer), who is a member of the Management Board. Workers may also make protected disclosures to persons outside the Department, and to a number of Offices and Agencies of the Department, which are prescribed under the Act. These arrangements are included in the Department’s Protected Disclosures policy.

Where a protected disclosure is made, the concern raised is treated seriously and investigated where it is considered appropriate. Every appropriate step is taken to safeguard the identity of the person raising the concern and they are kept fully apprised of how the issue is being addressed, including the outcome of any investigation. The person raising the concern is not disadvantaged in any way for having made the disclosure, even if no wrongdoing is identified, providing the concern was based on a reasonable belief.  The Protected Disclosures policy provides that the person receiving a disclosure should notify, in confidence, the Secretary General, the appropriate Head of Division, the HR manager and the Head of the Management Support Unit.

Depending on the nature of the disclosure, the recipient of an allegation may decide to conduct an initial examination of the issue themselves, or may refer the matter to another colleague who is more suited to investigate the alleged wrongdoing. If, on preliminary examination, there appears to be prima facie substance to the allegation, the matter may be the subject of a full investigation or may be referred to an outside body, including An Garda Siochana.

Since the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 came into force, there have been 7 disclosures to my Department.  In two of these cases the matters raised related to the business of my Department and were assigned for investigation by persons outside the Department, with relevant expertise. In other situations the matters raised were not the subject of areas of responsibility of my Department and had been also separately raised with the relevant Government Department.  In all cases the person making the disclosure was kept informed of the decision by my Department in relation to their disclosure.

Zero-hour Contracts

 585. Deputy Josepha Madigan Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the status of zero-hour contracts in legislation; her plans for reform in this policy area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15091/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Pat Breen): Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 is the only Act that refers to zero hours practices in Irish employment rights legislation. Specifically, Section 18 of that Act, provides that employees with a certain number of hours (that number may be zero) as well as employees on as-and-when contracts or hybrid contracts are entitled to compensation if the employer does not require them to work in a given week when they are required to be available for work. They are entitled to compensation amounting to 25% of the time they were required to be available or 15 hours' pay, whichever is the lesser. 

It is important to the note that the University of Limerick study on the prevalence of zero hours contracts in Ireland found that zero hours contracts are not common in this jurisdiction.

My colleague, Minister Mitchell O'Connor, and I intend to bring forward proposals in this area for consideration by Government. In this respect, work has progressed well on developing a policy response to the Programme for Government commitment to address the increased casualisation of work and to strengthen the regulation of precarious employment.  We intend to include protections aimed particularly at low-paid, more vulnerable workers.  Our proposals will address the issue of employees on low hour contracts who consistently work more hours each week but whose contracts do not reflect the reality of their hours worked. The proposals will also seek to ensure that employees are better informed about the nature of their employment arrangements and their core terms at an early stage in their employment.

The policy response is being informed by the University of Limerick study on zero hour contracts and low hour contracts as well as the extensive material and practical examples provided by respondents to the public consultation conducted by my Department.

Developing policy proposals in this area is a complex matter. A balance needs to be found between protecting the rights of employees and avoiding unintended consequences on business which may negatively affect the competitiveness of the Irish economy. 

My Department engaged in a detailed dialogue process with ICTU and Ibec over a number of months in developing the proposals. The intention now is to submit our proposals to Government in the coming weeks for consideration and approval to draft a Bill giving effect to those proposals.

Brexit Issues

 586. Deputy Kate O'Connell Information on Kate O'Connell Zoom on Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the specific actions that have been undertaken by any and all LEOs to assist local enterprises to cope with the impact of Brexit, in tabular form. [15125/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The LEOs will continue to provide a range of supports for the micro and small business sector in 2017 and beyond. As the “first-stop-shop” for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business, the LEOs will:

  - Provide a sign-posting service to all relevant State supports

  - Offer direct grant aid to micro-enterprises (of up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities.

  - Offer “soft” supports in the form of training and mentoring

  - Assist with loan applications to Micro Finance Ireland.

  As set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2017, the LEOs will be focused on supporting companies in navigating the challenges presented by Brexit. A range of measures are being put in place in LEOs nationwide to supplement the existing LEO supports, including:

  - Supports to facilitate micro enterprises to develop new internationalisation opportunities

  - Roll-out of a national 'Lean for Micro' initiative to drive firm level competitiveness;

  - Brexit-focused mentoring and training initiatives; and

  - Local-level awareness raising and information sharing about Brexit.

  Already, in the period since the Brexit referendum last June, the 31 LEOs nationwide have organised a range of events to assist their clients in meeting the challenges presented by Brexit, including training, seminars, workshops, cross-border business networking and mentoring.

  I have asked my officials to compile a comprehensive listing of these specific Brexit-related activities and this will be provided to the Deputy over the coming days.

Foreign Direct Investment

 587. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor her plans and those of the agencies under the aegis of her Department to respond to the new investment environment faced by US multinationals with a presence here under the new US Administration; her particular plans to respond to these new challenges to Ireland's successful inward investment strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15151/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor American investment is very important to Ireland’s economic well-being. The US is the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) here, accounting for over 70% of the country’s total FDI. Approximately 680 US corporations employ 135,000 people directly in a broad range of sectors.

It is difficult to predict what policy changes may be introduced by the new US administration. I am confident, however, that US companies will still require a global presence and Ireland will continue to position itself as the number one location from which American firms can internationalise their business.

It is important to remember that US companies come to Europe and to Ireland for many reasons.  The European market remains among the largest and richest in the world and US companies will still want to invest here to capture markets, access skills and access innovation.

IDA Ireland has a 67 year track record of winning foreign direct investment for the Irish people. Over that period, the world economy has evolved and changed shape many times, yet Ireland has always stayed relevant for investors. When the global investment climate changes again, we will adapt accordingly – as we have done in the past – and make sure that Ireland remains attractive to multinational and American businesses.

Insurance Costs

 588. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the cost of insurance under different insurance headings such as public liability, buildings cover, employer liability and so on for her Department and each body under its aegis; the name of the insurance provider for each year since 2010, in tabular form; the number of current outstanding insurance claims against her Department or the body under its aegis; and the estimated cost of those claims if available. [15183/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor State indemnity for personal injury and third party property damage is set out in the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2000 where the management of personal injury underlying risks, and third party property damage claims against certain State authorities, is delegated to the National Treasury Management Agency.  When performing these functions, the Agency is known as the State Claims Agency (SCA).

  The SCA’s remit covers personal injury and third party property damage claims against the State itself, Ministers of the Government and the delegated State Agencies, as applicable.

  This function is discharged in relation to bodies delegated to the SCA under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2000 and subsequent legal orders, but not to all State-funded or associated enterprises.

  Public Financial Procedures defines indemnities as: “agreements to compensate bodies or individuals for loss or damage arising” and states that: “The general rule is that no insurance should be effected against the risk of any loss which, if it arose, would fall wholly and directly on public funds.  This is based on the understanding that the risks for which the Government is liable are innumerable and widely distributed and that losses maturing in any one year are never so large as to materially disturb the financial position of the year, so that it is cheaper in the long term for the Exchequer to ‘carry its own insurance’ ”.

  In relation to "buildings cover", accommodation for my Department is provided by and under the stewardship of the OPW who manage the State portfolio.  The OPW has confirmed that it does not pay any monies direct to insurance companies and that in the case of state owned buildings the OPW carry their own risk. In some instances of leased buildings the OPW refunds due portions of premia to landlords. The OPW has advised that it is the landlord in this instance who has the direct relationship with insurance providers.

  Similarly, should public, or employer’s, liability or property claims arise from an incident on property occupied by my Department, this is investigated and managed by the SCA in liaison with the delegated State body or Department.

  Finally, in relation to outstanding claims against my Department or bodies under its aegis, I have asked the relevant Agencies to respond to me directly and I will write to the Deputy with the relevant details, in due course.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Work Permits Eligibility

 589. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if a company that cannot source indigenous or EEA national employees can fill vacancies by employing non-EEA nationals due to the shortage of skilled workforce here. [15330/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Irish State’s general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of Ireland, the European Union and other EEA states.  Policy in relation to applications for employment permits remains focused on facilitating the recruitment from outside the EEA of highly skilled personnel, where the requisite skills cannot be met by normal recruitment or by training.  Employment permit policy is part of the response to addressing skills deficits which exist and are likely to continue into the medium term, but it is not intended over the longer term to act as a substitute for meeting the challenge of up-skilling our resident workforce, with an emphasis on the process of lifelong learning, and on maximising the potential of EEA nationals to fill our skills deficits.

  The employment permits system is ordered through a list structure: the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List, which lists occupations in high demand in the Irish labour market and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List, which lists occupations for which there is ample capacity already in the Irish/EEA labour market.  An evidence-based review of these lists is conducted by my Department twice a year in order to keep the orientation of economic migration firmly in step with the precise needs of the labour market. The next review is due to commence in April with the public consultation process.

  Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the EEA, an employment permit may be sought in respect of a non-EEA national who possesses those skills.  For occupations that are not on the ineligible list and are not on the Highly Skilled List an employment permit may be sought subject to a labour market needs test being conducted.  All applications are processed in accordance with the Employment Permits Act 2006, as amended and are dependent on a specific job offer. 

  Full information on the current eligibility criteria in relation to employment permits can be found on the Department’s website at https://www.djei.ie/en/What-We-Do/Jobs-Workplace-and-Skills/Employment-Permits/.

  If any non-EEA national is successful in securing a job offer from an employer in Ireland which falls within those employments eligible for an employment permit they may make an appropriate application. Applications for an employment permit online at https://epos.djei.ie/eposonlineportal/#/app/welcome

EU Funding

 590. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the number of SMEs that have been recipients of Horizon 2020 funding in each year since the programme became operational, by county, in tabular form.  [15473/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The following tables provide the requested breakdown for each of the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

  Table 1: 2014

CountyAmount
CARLOW1
CORK3
DUBLIN21
GALWAY3
KERRY4
KILDARE1
LIMERICK1
WATERFORD2
WESTMEATH1


  Table 2: 2015
CountyAmount
CARLOW2
CORK11
DUBLIN42
GALWAY10
KERRY2
LIMERICK5
LOUTH6
KILDARE1
MAYO1
TIPPERARY1
WICKLOW4
  

  Table 3: 2016
CountyAmount
CORK7
DUBLIN50
GALWAY4
KERRY3
KILDARE1
LIMERICK5
LONGFORD1
LOUTH1
MAYO1
MEATH1
SLIGO1
WATERFORD1
WESTMEATH1
WICKLOW3


  Table 4: 2017 
CountyAmount
CORK1
DUBLIN9
GALWAY1
KERRY1
LIMERICK1
MONAGHAN1
WICKLOW2

  Question No. 591 answered with Question No. 573.

Business Regulation

 592. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the reason there is a provision in the statutory audits Bill 2017 to change section 343 of the Companies Act 2014 regarding district court applications for late filing; and if she is considering removing this proposal in the final Bill, which removes the audit exemption for small companies with a view to minimise the disproportionate regulatory burden on such businesses. [15477/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The General Scheme of the Companies (Statutory Audits) Bill was approved by Government on 17 January 2017 and published on 16 February 2017. Head 167 of that Scheme proposes to amend section 343 of the Companies Act 2014.

Section 343 obliges companies to make an annual return to the Companies Registration Office.  Companies have a period of 9 months from the end of their financial year to prepare and file their annual returns. Where a company fails to meet that deadline, it loses the audit exemption.  

Since the introduction of the withdrawal of the audit exemption for failure to file on time, the rate of compliance with filing deadlines has increased from 13% to 90%.  This increase in compliance was one of the reasons why the Company Law Review Group recommended no change to the loss of the audit exemption when it reviewed the provision in 2011. 

Section 343 introduced the option for a company to apply to the District Court or the High Court for an extension to its annual return date.  In 2016, 1,201 such applications were made to the District Court and 29 to the High Court. Of these, 957 applications were granted with the remainder refused, withdrawn or adjourned.

The option to apply to the courts replaced what had been an administrative scheme where a company could apply to the Registrar of Companies for an extension. Under that administrative scheme, a consequence of any extension was the loss of the audit exemption.

Head 167 of the General Scheme of the Companies (Statutory Audits) Bill proposes to reinstate the situation whereby a company loses the audit exemption if it is granted an extension to its annual return date.

The General Scheme has been submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting into a Bill. It will be a matter for the Oireachtas to decide the final provisions of that Bill.

Local Enterprise Offices Data

 593. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the number of local enterprise office and previously county enterprise board supported jobs, by county, and in the case of Dublin, a breakdown between Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and south Dublin for 2014, 2015 and 2016, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15478/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the “first-stop-shop” for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and other supports to those wishing to start or grow their own business at local level.

  The LEOs:

  - provide a sign-posting service to all relevant State supports

  - offer direct grant aid to micro-enterprises (up to 10 employees) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities

  - offer “soft” supports in the form of training and mentoring, and

  - assist with loan applications to Micro Finance Ireland.

  Details of total full-time and part-time jobs in LEO-supported clients from 2014-2016 are shown in the following table.

  Please note that overall employment in the LEO client portfolio adjusts from year to year due to transfers in/out of the portfolio to Enterprise Ireland, in addition to the changes arising from jobs directly created and lost by LEO client companies.

LEO
2014
2015
2016
Carlow
1152
1029
1092
Cavan104911101162
Clare134614331110
Cork City656696633
Cork North & West7851274977
Cork South12778471393
Donegal122311321358
Dublin City143115721670
Dublin DLR130412711308
Dublin Fingal562723831
South Dublin114611051230
Galway882900962
Kerry179418811962
Kildare683770881
Kilkenny115412781500
Laois384451485
Leitrim388378422
Limerick129214751856
Longford8999851061
Louth656729780
Mayo106011411239
Meath806876927
Monaghan904806903
Offaly931887921
Roscommon641666704
Sligo110310831095
Tipperary 137713191437
Waterford151517211469
Westmeath128412991375
Wexford107011671192
Wicklow572588699
Total 313263259234634

Credit Guarantee Scheme

 594. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor her views on the current drawdown levels issued under the credit guarantee scheme; the value of approvals in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by county of each drawdown and approval; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15479/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Credit Guarantee Schemes (the original made in 2012, and another in 2015) were operated on behalf of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation by Capita Asset Services for the first 4 years of its existence and, on 17 October 2016, the role of Operator was assumed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) on behalf of the Minister.

  As of 24th February 2017, SBCI advises that, under the Schemes, 427 loans to the value of €68,336,144 had been sanctioned by participating lenders under the scheme. It is estimated that these loans have created or sustained a total of 2,721 jobs in the Irish economy.

  However, once the benefit of a credit guarantee is sanctioned and offered to a borrower under the Schemes, not all borrowers proceed to actually draw down the finance available.  A significant number of cases are listed as ‘Pending’ by the participating lenders (the main banks to date), the SBCI has indicated that it does not as of now hold complete information on all such cases and, as a result, it is not possible at present to quantify accurately the drawdowns of loans considered under the scheme.

  A breakdown of sanctioned loans by County and Region is provided at A. and B. below. In addition, Quarterly Reports providing full details of the latest Credit Guarantee Scheme performance are published on my Department’s website.

  The new Credit Guarantee Scheme 2017, recently launched by my colleague, Mr Pat Breen, T.D., Minister for Employment and Small Business, will be available shortly to our SMEs.  It is my belief that we will see a significant uptake in demand, given that the new Scheme will

- permit me as Minister to take a higher level of risk on finance provided to SMEs;

- enable new financial providers to take part, and;

- allow for the provision of finance to SMEs via products other than bank loans, namely agreements on credit facilities, asset credit facilities and invoice financing facilities.

A. Credit Guarantee Scheme Sanctioned by County

County
2014
2015
2016
Total
Longford€ -€ -€ - € -
Carlow€ 120,000€ 950,000€ 600,000 € 1,670,000
Cavan€ -€ 350,000€ 287,000 € 637,000
Clare€ -€ -€ - € -
Cork€ 420,000€ 1,015,000€ 1,318,000 € 2,753,000
Donegal€ -€ -€ 197,000 € 197,000
Dublin€ 2,116,000€ 8,458,000€ 10,431,000 € 21,005,000
Galway€ 315,000€ 460,000€ 1,140,000 € 1,915,000
Kerry€ 180,000€ 56,600€ 500,000 € 736,600
Kildare€ 515,000€ 1,400,000€ 980,000 € 2,895,000
Kilkenny€ -€ 295,000€ - € 295,000
Laois€ 200,000€ 406,950€ 1,310,000 € 1,916,950
Leitrim€ -€ 500,000€ 500,000 € 1,000,000
Limerick € 842,844€ 2,142,500€ 960,000 € 3,945,344
Louth€ 50,000€ 215,000€ 840,000 € 1,105,000
Mayo€ 158,500€ 90,000€ 325,000 € 573,500
Meath€ 95,000€ 300,000€ 280,000 € 675,000
Monaghan€ -€ -€ - € -
Offaly€ 130,000€ -€ 60,000 € 190,000
Roscommon€ -€ -€ - € -
Sligo€ 57,000€ -€ - € 57,000
Tipperary€ 75,000€ 795,000€ 136,000 € 1,006,000
Waterford€ 190,000€ 160,000€ - € 350,000
Westmeath€ 375,000€ -€ 500,000 € 875,000
Wexford€ 450,000€ 45,000€ 78,000 € 573,000
Wicklow€ 100,000€ 431,000€ 630,000 € 1,161,000
Total€ 6,389,344€ 18,070,050€ 21,072,000€ 45,531,394


B.Regional Breakdown of the Credit Guarantee Scheme

-
    
Region
2014
2015
2016
Total
East - (Dublin, Kildare,    
Meath and Wicklow)
€ 2,826,000
€ 10,589,000
€ 12,321,000
€ 25,736,000
Mid West - (Limerick and    
Clare)
€ 842,844
€ 2,142,500
€ 960,000
€ 3,945,344
South West - (Cork and    
Kerry)
€ 600,000
€ 1,071,600
€ 1,818,000
€ 3,489,600
South East - (Waterford,    
Wexford, Carlow,    
Kilkenny and Tipperary)
€ 835,000
€ 2,245,000
€ 814,000
€ 3,894,000
Midlands - (Laois,    
Longford, Offaly,    
Roscommon, and    
Westmeath)
€ 705,000
€ 406,950
€ 1,870,000
€ 2,981,950
West - (Galway and    
Mayo)
€ 473,500
€ 550,000
€ 1,465,000
€ 2,488,500
North East - (Cavan,    
Louth and Monaghan)
€ 50,000
€ 565,000
€ 1,127,000
€ 1,742,000
North West - (Donegal,    
Sligo and Leitrim)
€ 57,000
€ 500,000
€ 697,000
€ 1,254,000
Total€ 6,389,344€ 18,070,050€ 21,072,000€ 45,531,394

State Aid

 595. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the exact procedural and legislative process at EU level between Council and Commission to make changes to the current de minimis state-aid rules (details supplied).  [15480/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor As part of a comprehensive State Aid Modernisation Reform, on 18 December 2013 the European Commission adopted Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid. The Regulation, which sets the de minimis threshold at €200,000 over a three year fiscal period, entered into force on 1 January 2014 and will apply until 31 December 2020.

Council Regulation No 2015/1588 of 13 July 2015 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to certain categories of horizontal State aid (codification) provides that the De Minimis Regulation may be amended only “where circumstances have changed with respect to any important element that constituted grounds for their adoption or where the progressive development or the functioning of the internal market so requires.”

If the Commission intends to adopt a Regulation, it is required to publish a draft to enable all interested persons and organisations to submit their comments to it. The Commission is also obliged to consult the Advisory Committee on State aid, composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission, on the draft Regulation. The Commission must take the utmost account of the opinion delivered by the Committee.

IDA Ireland Portfolio

 596. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor further to Parliamentary Question No. 1266 of 21 March 2017, if she will address a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15502/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I have arranged for the company's information to be sent to IDA Ireland. The Deputy may also advise the company that he can contact the Agency directly should he wish to do so.

Departmental Funding

 597. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the action to be taken to fulfil the need to provide €25,000 to a project (details supplied) for counselling services; if the core funding for this project will be increased substantially to allow the project to deal with the many demands on its services; and the funding strategy for this sector generally and, in particular, the funding for counselling services. [15085/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla has confirmed that Kilkenny School Completion Programme (SCP) receives an annual grant of €260,172 to support the range of interventions that have been put in place to support young people at risk of early school leaving and young people who are out of school. There is provision within the SCP grant scheme to allocate up to €5,000 of this funding annually towards counselling supports should a) such supports be deemed essential to support young people at risk of early school leaving or young people out of school and b) should no other counselling supports be accessible or available to meet these counselling needs.

Kilkenny SCP is currently preparing its SCP plan for the 2017/2018 school year. The plan is due to be submitted by April 21st 2017 and should reflect the planned programme of interventions agreed by Kilkenny SCP to meet the needs of the young people being supported by the SCP programme.

Budget 2017 made no provision for increases in the School Completion Programme Budget so the funding available for the 2017/2018 school year remains the same as that available for the current school year.

While the School Completion Programme allows some funding to be allocated towards counselling supports where such supports are required for students being supported by the SCP programme and such supports are not available from any other source, the School Completion Programme is not designed to meet wider counselling needs in schools.

Tusla supports and funds child counselling through the Agency’s Family Support Services funding. In 2016 funding solely for child counselling was increased under this scheme by €154,000 to €680,000. In particular child counselling funding to 70 Family Resource Centres around Ireland was increased to €242,000.

Tusla is the primary funder of Barnardos Children's Bereavement Service. This funding was increased by €20,000 in 2016, total funding to the service is now €154,600. Tusla is also committed to the funding of Rainbows Ireland, which provides group based support to children dealing with loss following parental separation /divorce or a death. The Rainbows programme is currently delivered in over 250 schools and community based centres around the country. Funding in 2016 was increased by €15,000 to €250,000 annually.

Child and Family Agency Services

 598. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the ongoing discussions between Tusla, a centre (details supplied), and South Dublin County Council regarding the provision of a new child and family centre in Clondalkin, Dublin 22. [14814/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department has been in contact with Tulsa in relation to the status of these ongoing discussions. They have confirmed that Tusla's Area Manager in Dublin South Central has advised that a meeting is being arranged to discuss the issue. They will keep the Department informed of any further updates.

Children in Care

 599. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children currently in foster care in 2017; and the number of those children under 12 years of age, between 12 and 16 years of age and between 16 and 18 years of age, in tabular form. [14823/17]

 600. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children currently in foster care who have been diagnosed with special needs, physical or mental. [14824/17]

 601. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children currently on waiting lists to access the services of designated social workers.  [14825/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 599 to 601, inclusive, together.

  The most recent figures provided by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, indicate that there were 6,258 children in care at the end of December 2016, which is a decrease of 2% compared with the previous year. Of the children in care, 93% were in foster care nationally; there were 4,102 (66%) children in general foster care, 1,715 (27%) in relative care and 316 (5%) children were in a residential care placement.

  The breakdown by age for children in foster care in 2016 is not available as yet, however Tusla has provided a breakdown of provisional figures for 2015. At the end of December 2015 there were 4,110 children in foster care nationally. The breakdown by ages as requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Age category
Number of children in foster care
Under 12 years of age
2,497
12 - 15 years of age
1,117
16 - 17 years of age
496


  I can advise that the most recent figures available in relation to the number of children in care with a disability are to the end of September 2016. At that time, 5,906 children were in general foster care nationally. Of these, 523 (9%) had been diagnosed by a Clinical Specialist as having a moderate to severe disability. The Census 2011 results published by the Central Statistics report that nationally the percentage of children aged 14 years and under with a disability was 5.4%.

  I have placed a high priority on addressing the number of children who are without an allocated social worker. I secured additional funding for this purpose in 2017, and Tusla is now in the second year of a 3-year plan to ensure that a social worker is allocated to all children and young people who need one.

  The number of children without an allocated social worker at the end of 2016 was 5,413 representing a reduction of 19% (1,305) over the course of the year. Cases to be allocated to a social worker include children known to Tusla whose social worker is no longer available to them, as well as children waiting to be allocated for the first time. All unallocated cases are assessed and prioritised according to risk. Tusla has indicated that there were 453 children in care awaiting the allocation of a social worker at the end of 2016. Tusla advises that children in care with a disability are a priority.

Child and Family Agency Data

 602. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of social workers who are currently employed with Tusla. [14826/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla has advised that as of the end of January 2017 the number of Social Workers employed by Tusla was 1467.45 Whole Time Equivalent.

Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children

 603. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the estimated cost of supporting arriving refugee unaccompanied minors here in 2017; the number of minors to be expected; the cost per child; and the amount that has been allocated by her Department for the care of arriving refugee children and minors. [14828/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am closely monitoring the emerging situation and I am in close contact with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to ensure this whole of Government response to this humanitarian effort is successful.

Based on current commitments and the likely number that will be referred from immigration services, which can vary from year to year, it is expected that there will be at least 160 unaccompanied minors received by Tusla’s Separated Children Seeking Asylum team over the course of the year.

Our current commitments includes Ireland’s refugee programme through which we can expect to receive 20 unaccompanied minors from Greece and 40 from Calais in respect to the Dáil resolution passed last November.

In terms of the cost per child – in a full year, residential requirements for a child can be expected to cost between €200,000-€250,000. This cost applies for all children in residential care. If a child is over 12 years old and placed in a fostering situation, the carer or family will receive from Tusla an allowance of €352 per week, and there are additional costs to Tusla including that of the allocated social worker, supervision, and administration costs.


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