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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 233-246
 Header Item Foreign Policy
 Header Item Foreign Policy
 Header Item Humanitarian Aid Provision
 Header Item Middle East Peace Process
 Header Item International Terrorism
 Header Item Humanitarian Aid Provision
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Data
 Header Item Heritage Centres Data
 Header Item Garda Stations
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Status
 Header Item Offshore Islands
 Header Item Expenditure Reviews
 Header Item Freedom of Information
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 947 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 97 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 233-246

Foreign Policy

 233. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which issues likely to require attention within the European Union, such as emerging nationalism, are a focus for member states with particular reference to the need to rediscover the vision of Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18645/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan One factor behind the rise of extreme right wing movements in Europe in recent times is disillusionment among Europe’s citizens that their everyday concerns are not being addressed by their political leaders. In response, they have been listening more closely to those offering easy answers and all too often, simplistic solution.

  The Rome Declaration agreed by EU leaders last month rightly highlights the EU's achievements, which leaders see as being increasingly overshadowed by emerging populist movements. The Rome Declaration is just one manifestation of the ongoing debate on the Future of Europe. Member States generally accept that now is not the time for grand gestures or bold new institutional or Treaty initiatives. That makes strong and continued delivery on current priorities all the more important. While there are differing views about the order and emphasis on different policy priorities – jobs and growth, Single Market and Digital Single Market, migration, internal and external security and defence – there is convergence on the need to communicate that the EU will prioritise delivery for its citizens, re-dedicate itself to its core values, and reaffirm its raison d'être as the embodiment of peace, stability, democracy and the Rule of Law in these uncertain times.

  Delivery on these important issues should serve to rekindle citizens’ trust in - and support for - the EU and the values it espouses.

Foreign Policy

 234. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which the western Balkans receives constructive support and attention from the European Union; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18646/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Western Balkans continues to be a priority for the European Union. At the most recent European Council on 9 March, the Heads of State and Government, including the Taoiseach, reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. The region was also discussed at the most recent Foreign Affairs Council (6 March) which I attended, and the most recent General Affairs Council (7 March), at which Ireland was represented by Minister Dara Murphy, T.D.

These high-level discussions both reflect the commitment of the EU to the Western Balkans, particularly in a context where internal political difficulties are compounded by the impact of external influences on the stability of the region, and complement the on-going work of the European Commission and the Member States, including Ireland, in respect of progress on the enlargement and integration processes in individual candidate and potential candidate countries.

Ireland is a strong supporter of the enlargement process, regarding it as a transformative driver for stability and progress, and we work actively with our European partners to assist candidates on their reform path, and to encourage good neighbourly relations and inclusive regional cooperation initiatives.

Humanitarian Aid Provision

 235. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the extent to which humanitarian aid reaches those for whom it was intended throughout the globe; the number of areas currently of concern in this regard; the actions taken to address the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18647/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The international community is currently challenged by the unprecedented scale of humanitarian crises globally, as a result of war and conflict, drought and famine and the devastation caused by natural disasters. Over 128 million people in 33 countries around the world are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

The UN has identified the emergencies, in Syria, Iraq and Yemen as particularly complex crises in conflict situations which have resulted in significant displacement, food insecurity, rising malnutrition levels and serious concerns for the protection of civilians. At the conference on Syria last week in Brussels, I promised that Ireland would provide at least €25 million this year to support those affected by the Syria crisis. We have provided €76.5 million to those affected by the crises since 2012. We have also provided €5.75 million for Iraq since 2012 and we have provided almost €6 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen. I am also deeply concerned about the situation of millions of people currently facing famine, or threat of famine, in Somalia, South Sudan and north east Nigeria. €11 million in new funding from Ireland was announced last month to assist people suffering in the Horn of Africa, and we have committed to provide at least €5 million in 2017 in response to the ongoing severe humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region. Some €115 million in humanitarian funding has been provided to the Horn of Africa since 2012.

Ireland’s assistance is focused on where needs are greatest, providing support to the most vulnerable and hard to reach populations, and we are committed to responding in a timely and effective manner to the most severe humanitarian crises and emergencies, in particular to protracted and forgotten crises.

At the World Humanitarian Summit, which I attended in Istanbul last May, significant commitments were made by donors, including 35 specific commitments by Ireland, to ensure faster and more effective delivery of humanitarian aid. Ireland will continue to work to ensure that our assistance is targeted at and reaches those in greatest need, in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Middle East Peace Process

 236. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the efforts being made to encourage re-engagement in the peace process in the Middle East; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18648/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Notwithstanding other concurrent crises in the Middle East region, the resolution of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict remains a priority for the Government and for the European Union, and one to which I have devoted a lot of time at EU level and in visits to the region. Already the issue has been discussed at three of the four meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council held so far this year.

The background is a very troubling one of stagnation in the political process and worsening developments on the ground. The significant effort led by France last year, including the holding of two major conferences, was able to maintain an international focus on the issue but was not able to restore any momentum to the political process. Regrettably, the Israeli Government refused to attend or to engage in any way with the French initiative. The Palestinian side, aware of this, has also focused its attention elsewhere for the moment.

The stance of the new United States Administration is, as ever, likely to be a major factor in prospects for reviving the peace process. The Administration is currently engaged in a policy review and President Trump’s new Middle East envoy has just returned from his first exploratory visit to the region.

For our part, Ireland and our EU colleagues remain fully committed to a two state solution to the conflict, as the only option which can meet the needs of both sides, however difficult it may be to achieve. This is also the overwhelming view of the international community, as expressed in Security Council Resolution 2334 in December, and in the Declaration of the second Paris Conference which I attended in January. The EU will continue to espouse and advance this approach.

International Terrorism

 237. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the extent to which he along with the EU and UN are addressing the threat of international terrorism; if particular initiatives are likely to protect peaceful citizens; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18649/17]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The issue of how best to respond to the threat posed by terrorism, evident once again in the recent attacks in London, Stockholm and Egypt has been and remains high on the EU agenda.

Foreign Ministers remain focused on implementation of the Council Conclusions on Counter-terrorism agreed in February 2015 and on the contribution that the EU can make through external action to preventing and countering terrorism. Engagement with third countries to prevent violent extremism and to strengthen their capacity to detect and prevent terrorism, in full compliance with international law and human rights, is at the heart of the EU’s strategy and is reflected in a substantial increase in assistance to third countries in this respect.

The EU has placed considerable emphasis on its immediate neighbourhood: Western Balkans, Turkey, and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. Actions include finalising Counter-Terrorism action plans with Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Turkey, expanding the EU Counter Terrorism experts’ network to the Sahel and Western Balkans, and focusing on preventive action on conflict and violent extremism prevention priorities identified through the EU Early Warning process.

The EU’s approach is guided by, and is consistent with, the approach taken by the UN to countering terrorism and by the principles and measures set out in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSCR 2161 (2014) on freezing funds and other assets of terrorist groups, and UNSCR 2178 (2014) on measures to suppress the recruiting, organising, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to another State to plan or carry out terrorist acts or training.

The former UN Secretary General’s comprehensive Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, presented in January last year, and his related reports are an important and welcome contribution to addressing the threat posed by international terrorism, and to highlighting the need to address drivers of violent extremism through dialogue and conflict prevention, strengthening governance and the rule of law, gender equality and empowering women, community engagement and youth empowerment, and education and skills development.

Ireland supports the comprehensive approach being taken at EU and UN levels level to preventing and countering terrorism. At meetings of the Council, I have stressed the need to tackle underlying factors that contribute to radicalisation and terrorism and in particular the importance of the link between security and development. I have emphasised the need to ensure a joined-up approach in relation to the discussions of Foreign Ministers and those of our Justice and Home Affairs counterparts with a view to a coordinated and comprehensive response to terrorism that can help ensure the safety of citizens abroad and in Ireland.

Humanitarian Aid Provision

 238. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on steps the EU or UN can take to protect persons who are refugees from war zones; if safe areas can be established for international aid under the protection of the military; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18650/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The provision of effective humanitarian assistance is a key foreign policy priority for the Government. Ireland provided over €190 million in humanitarian funding in 2016 to assist people affected by crisis and conflict around the world, including refugees from war zones. In addition, Ireland also contributes to the European Commission’s humanitarian action outside the EU, which has an annual budget of some €1 billion.

The ability to deliver international aid to vulnerable populations according to their need is critical. Ireland works at EU and UN level to advocate for increased humanitarian access, more effective means of providing assistance, and respect for international humanitarian law. In 2016, we provided €7 million in core funding to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as €4.8 million in humanitarian funding for its work in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Chad.

In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross, to which we provided €14 million in 2016, reminds authorities and others of their legal obligations under international humanitarian law as part of their mission to protect and assist the victims of war.

The ongoing crises in the Middle East and Africa illustrate clearly the need for the UN, in particular, to enhance its capacity to respond more effectively to conflict and the associated need for humanitarian protection. Providing safe areas within conflict zones is extremely difficult, especially where civilian protection is not prioritised. Safe areas require UN mandates and robustly equipped peacekeeping personnel. On my recent visit to Jordan and Lebanon, I witnessed for myself the important role played by UNIFL in ensuring the safety and protection of those affected by conflict, through its UN-mandated peacekeeping mission.

The blockages at the Security Council in recent years have prevented the international community from acting together in a way that would allow civilians in conflict zones to be afforded greater protection. Ireland advocates strongly for reforms to the membership and working methods of the Security Council, and we will continue to do so to ensure that it is equipped to respond to the challenges arising from conflict situations worldwide.

Flood Relief Schemes Data

 239. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the flood relief works that have been completed by the OPW and other State or local bodies in Dublin 1, 3 and 7, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18374/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works (OPW) has undertaken significant flood relief works, either by undertaking such works directly or by funding works undertaken by Dublin City Council, on the north side of Dublin City over the last 15 years.

  The following major schemes have been carried out:

Scheme/WorksYear Completed
River Tolka (Dublin City Council Area)2008
Spencer Dock2009
  Approximately €11 million was expended on these projects.

  Flood relief works were also carried out in the Clanmoyle area, Donnycarney on the River Wad which borders the area referred to in the question. This work was substantially completed in 2014 and cost approximately €5 million.

  In addition to the above, the City Council was approved funding in 2011 of €135,000 for localised works in Raheny Village and Harmontown Road under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation and Coastal Works Scheme. The implementation of any of these works is a matter for the City Council.

Heritage Centres Data

 240. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of visitors to each heritage centre in 2015 and 2016, in tabular form; the revenue collected in each centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18425/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Office of Public Works maintains a Guided visitor service at 70 sites nationally on either a fulltime or seasonal basis. The counted visitor numbers recorded in 2015 in respect of all these sites are listed on the attached tables together with details of the admission/heritage card/publication and other sales income earned.

  The corresponding data in respect of 2016 is being audited currently and is not yet available. Once the necessary information is collated and is to hand, it will be forwarded to the Deputy.

  Income & Admissions 2015

Site NameTOTAL

Sales Income*
Total

Counted Admissions
Notes
Altamont€1,974.0058,435Free entry site but charge for pre-booked groups
Aras€0.004,343Free entry site
Ardfert Cathedral€12,368.507,802 
Athenry Castle€16,151.5110,848 
Aughnanure Castle€3,538.3336,929No admission charges while works
Ballyhack Castle€121.502,613Free entry site
Barryscourt Castle€0.000Site closed for works
Battle of the Boyne/Oldbridge Estate€91,237.0058,053 
Blasket Centre€112,413.4548,261 
Boyle Abbey€15,302.056,919 
Bru na Boinne€110,758.9844,705 
Newgrange€699,264.51150,125 
Knowth€245,401.0069,057 
Cahir Castle€137,560.9668,532 
Carrowmore€96,511.0037,566 
Casino Marino and Parklands€13,890.7518,141Admission charges to House only
Castletown House€74,989.12297,691Admission charges to House only
Céide Fields€75,198.4032,821 
Charles Fort€218,193.3086,849 
Clonmacnoise€744,159.60157,660 
Corlea Trackway €414.205,331Free entry site


  Table ctg
Site NameTOTAL

Sales Income*
Total

Counted Admissions
Notes
Derrynane House€68,298.5026,961 
Desmond Castle€21,982.459,493 
Desmond Hall€316.5011,150Free entry site
Donegal Castle€117,043.7047,136 
Dublin Castle€1,315,916.00231,178 
Dún Aonghasa€289,755.50120,104 
Dungarvan Castle€690.5017,280Free entry site
Dunmore Cave€90,111.0043,767 
Emo Court€17,472.5113,244 
Ennis Friary€26,909.0011,377 
Farmleigh Estate€0.00410,076Free entry site
Ferns Castle€838.209,440Free entry site
Gallarus€0.0051,816Charge by Independent operator for entry to private visitor centre
Garinish Island€181,868.3058,557 
Glebe House & Gallery€11,119.4823,085Gallery Free, Charge to house only
Glendalough €240,237.7279,182 
Grianan an Aileach€0.00107,968Free, unguided site; footfall counter data only
Hill of Tara€21,578.50159,686Admission fees during season only, footfall counter in off season
J F K Memorial Park & Arboretum€135,905.5096,910 
Jerpoint Abbey€78,296.8023,442 
Kilkenny Castle€1,075,695.90282,588 
Kilmacurragh Gardens€0.0067,083Free entry site
Kilmainham Gaol€1,035,470.88326,635Reduction in admission charges due to works
Listowel€0.008,110Free entry site
Loughcrew€0.0014,416Free entry site
Main Guard€438.507,951Free entry site
Maynooth Castle€525.5021,843Free entry site
Mellifont Abbey€14,672.0912,493 
  Table ctg
Site NameTOTAL

Sales Income*
Total

Counted Admissions
Notes
National Botanic Gardens€172,858.88553,348Free entry site, charge for carparking and pre-booked groups
Newmills Corn and Flax Mills€284.114,173 
Ormond Castle€0.000Closed for works
Parke's Castle€29,468.8016,620Reduction in admission charges due to works
Pearse Museum€3,231.1035,418Free entry site
Pearse's Cottage€11,688.208,946 
Phoenix Park V. Centre€3,637.57141,582Free entry site
Portumna Castle€26,020.0114,237 
Rathfarnham Castle€2,740.503,737 
Reginald's Tower€60,228.5030,818Site closed until Oct 2015
Reginald's Tower -French Church€0.003,212Free entry site
Rock of Cashel€1,300,369.14300,749 
Roscrea Heritage€6,434.4025,715 
Ross Castle€111,943.2495,785 
Scattery Island€453.001,750Free entry site
Skellig Michael€0.0012,560Free entry site
Sligo Abbey€29,959.9015,592 
St. Audoen's Church€2,118.0033,092Free entry site
St. Mary’s Abbey€0.000Free entry site / Closed in 2015
St. Mary's, Gowran€187.002,634Free entry site
Swiss Cottage€50,321.3024,146 
Tintern Abbey€32,138.5015,227 
Trim Castle€165,555.7586,972 
Heritage Card sales Head Office€25,367.000 
 €9,449,596.094,921,965 
*   Sales Income includes all direct sales at sites including Admission fees, Publications and other sales, Heritage Cards, car parking, Gift shop etc. but excludes income from franchises, concessions and venue hirage.

Garda Stations

 241. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if a project will proceed to the next stage (details supplied); the timescale for construction to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18599/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The OPW continues to progress the legal matters relating to the acquisition of the site for the new station as a matter of high priority. This phase of the project is nearing completion. At this stage, it is not possible to provide a timeline for when construction will commence.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

 242. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the reason for the delay in the OPW formally approving the Lower Morrell river flood-relief scheme and the funding of same, in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18362/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I refer the Deputy to my previous reply on this matter on the 21 March 2017.

Kildare County Council (KCC) is the Contracting Authority for the Lower Morrell River Flood Relief Scheme and the Council is managing and overseeing the necessary work to progress the scheme.

Formal approval of the scheme and its funding by the Office of Public Works (OPW) will happen when KCC and its consultants complete the detailed design and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and are ready to submit the scheme for planning approval. This is expected to happen very shortly. KCC is working on finalising the detailed design and the EIS which includes liaising with the various landowners-stakeholders who will be impacted by the proposed works.

I can confirm that the Lower Morrell Scheme remains a priority and the OPW has included provision for the cost of the proposed works in its financial profiles in the period up to 2020.

Offshore Islands

 243. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when a decision will be made on applications for Skellig Islands landing permits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18400/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The evaluation of the applications for Boat Permits for Skellig Michael which were received before the extended deadline of 31 March last is proceeding currently.

  It is expected that the result of the Competition will be publicly available before the end of April.

Expenditure Reviews

 244. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the details of the implementation of the comprehensive spending review as announced in budget 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18496/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Work on the 2017 Spending Review began earlier this year, in January. The approach taken to this review differs from the Comprehensive Spending Reviews undertaken in 2011 and 2014 in that it does not cover total Government expenditure in a single year. The 2011 and 2014 reviews were conducted at a time when Ireland was about to enter, or already in an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) under the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). Now under the preventative arm of the SGP, we find ourselves in a different fiscal and economic landscape where moderate, sustainable expenditure growth is planned over the medium term.

  This year's review is the first in a planned series of 'rolling' selective reviews that will take place each year to 2019. This review will systematically examine existing spending programmes to assess their effectiveness in meeting policy objectives and to identify scope for re-allocating funding to meet expenditure priorities. This will allow Government to tackle any concerns identified in these areas while also potentially making some funding available for high-priority policies. A significant portion of expenditure will be examined in 2017, with the remainder to be examined in 2018 and 2019. Over the three year cycle, the totality of Government expenditure with the exception of pay rates will be reviewed in overall terms.  Engagement is ongoing between officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and those in other Government Departments on the topics under review for this first year.

  The chosen approach to the Spending Review has been informed by the Irish Government Economic Evaluation Service paper 'Spending Reviews in Ireland: Lessons for the Future' and has been tailored to reflect the changed context and lessons learned from previous reviews. A copy of this paper is available at igees.gov.ie.

  This approach of ongoing examination and re-prioritisation of funding is standard international practice in public expenditure management. It allows for an examination of the totality of Government spending on an ongoing basis, rather than focusing on the additional amount that may be available in a given year. This is intended to ensure that the maximum efficiency and effectiveness is achieved for every euro of public funding and allows a focus on the medium-term sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness of public spending.

Freedom of Information

 245. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the State agencies and semi-State bodies that are subject to the Freedom of Information Acts; his plans to extend the remit of this legislation to other such agencies and bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18557/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Freedom of Information Act 2014 provides a very broad definition of public bodies at Section 6(1) and further provides that all new public bodies comprehended by this definition will automatically come under freedom of information (FOI) legislation, unless specifically exempted by order. This reversed the system under previous legislation whereby new bodies would have to be brought into the scope of the legislation by order. The 2014 Act extended the remit of the legislation to a further 70 public bodies, bringing the overall total to some 600 bodies comprehended by the Act.   

  The types of bodies that are subject to FOI under the Act, in whole or in part, are as follows:

  - Governments Departments and agencies under their remit

  - An Garda Síochána

  - Local Authorities

  - Education and Training Boards

  - Health Service Executive

  - Voluntary Hospitals

  - Universities and other higher education institutions

  - Regulators, such as the Commission for Energy Regulation, the Commission for Communications Regulation

  - National Treasury Management Authority and its subsidiary bodies

  - Central Bank of Ireland

  - Refugee and asylum seekers bodies, such as the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Board;

  - Commercial State Companies operating in a monopoly market, such as Irish Water, Irish Rail and the energy network functions of ESB, EirGrid and Ervia.

  Schedule 1 Part 2 of the Act sets out the semi state bodies which are exempt from the Act.

  The Act also provides the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with the power to make an order bringing a body under the Commissioner's remit if it is financed, wholly or partly, or directly or indirectly by means of monies provided by a Minister of the Government.  I am sure that the Deputy would share the view that there has been substantial progress and a planned and structured approach of continuing to extend the Commissioner's remit is one that he would share. 

  I do not currently have any plans to bring further bodies within the scope of Freedom of Information.

Public Sector Pensions

 246. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he examined possible leeway for those who are denied full pension restoration and found to be marginally over the threshold of €34,132 as part of pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18607/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I believe that the Deputy is referring to those public service pensions which have been awarded in respect of retirements up to end-February 2012, and whose value before the application of the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) is marginally greater than €34,132.

  Such pensions will remain subject to PSPR when the three-stage part-reversal of PSPR provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015 is fully in place from 1 January 2018. However, the continued application  of PSPR to such pensions from then on will be subject to Section 6(1)(b) of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act (FEMPI) 2015.

  In effect this provision means that all relevant pensions with pre-PSPR values ranging from just above the threshold amount of €34,132 up to €34,695 will have PSPR applied from 1 January 2018 in a manner whereby pensions in that value range will thereby be protected against falling below €34,132 in terms of post-PSPR value.

  Further explanation and technical details of this provision as it applies to relevant pensions with pre-PSPR values marginally greater than €34,132 is given in paragraph 8(ii) of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 18/2015: "Changes to the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR)" at  http://circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/per/2015/18.pdf.


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