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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 741-757
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Health and Safety Regulations
 Header Item Mortgage to Rent Scheme
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel Data
 Header Item Military Medals
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Ministerial Functions
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Defence Forces Representative Organisations
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item Naval Service Expenditure

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 741-757

Lobbying Data

 741. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of occasions on which he has been lobbied in respect of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill since March 2016; the persons he has met; the dates of these meetings; the details of the basis of the lobbying; his views on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42294/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Owing to the scope of my remit as Minister, I receive representations from a wide range of parties, including public representatives, local and voluntary groups and private individuals and organisations.

  A small number of representations were received in my Department in connection with the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. These were forwarded directly to the Department of Health as it is within its area of responsibility.

  At their request, I met the following who sought an opportunity to discuss the Alcohol Bill with me:

  - 10 July 2017 - Rosemary Garth, Director of Communications & Corporate Affairs, Irish Distillers; Bríd Murphy, Red Flag Consulting;

   - 26 July 2017 - Jonathan McDade, Senior Executive, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (trade association); Liam Reid, Corporate Relations Director, Diageo; Barry Costello, Trade Marketing Controller, Edward Dillon; Martin Mackin,

     Q4PR.

  I noted the views expressed at the meetings and indicated that the matters involved should be pursued with the Minister for Health.

  The Deputy will be aware that the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 provides that the Standards in Public Office Commission, an independent body, is the Registrar of Lobbying. The Act is designed to provide information to the public about who is lobbying whom about what. It also provides for the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons who carry on lobbying activities and for a code of conduct relating to carrying on lobbying activities. The registrar has pointed out that lobbying is an essential part of the democratic process, which enables or facilitates citizens and organisations to make their views on public policy and public services known to politicians and public servants. The Standards in Public Office Commission has established an easily searchable and free to use online register of lobbying at: www.lobbying.ie.

Wind Energy Guidelines

 742. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when he plans to open the public consultation process for the draft wind energy guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42339/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My predecessor as Minister, in conjunction with my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, announced an emerging, "preferred draft approach", to the review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in June 2017. A copy of the announcement is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/wind-energy/coveney-and-naughten-announce-key-development-review-wind-energy-development-guidelines.

  As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment, SEA, will be undertaken on the, "proposed draft approach", to the revised Guidelines before they come into effect. This is in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, the SEA Directive. The SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes, which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process. It is envisaged that the public consultation as part of the SEA process will be undertaken in early 2018.

  When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities, and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála, must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts.

Health and Safety Regulations

 743. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the legislation or regulations in place in relation to the protection of health and safety of children in privately owned recreational facilities such as theme parks, amusement centres and activity parks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42351/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 places a statutory duty on organisers of funfairs and owners of fairground equipment to take such care as is reasonable for ensuring that persons at a funfair do not suffer injury or damage by reason of dangers arising from the funfair or associated activities. This legislation also requires that the owner of fairground equipment shall not make it available to the public unless such equipment has a valid certificate of safety. The organiser of a funfair is required to give notice of the event to the relevant local authority and such notice is to be accompanied by a valid certificate of safety.

My Department commenced an internal review process on the issue of safety at funfairs/fairground equipment earlier this year. The review of the aspects of legislation relating to regulation of fairground equipment and funfairs in section 239 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, particularly in respect of the specific legislative provisions relating to fairground equipment, is ongoing and includes an examination of international practice in the area of regulating public safety. The drafting of the review report has commenced, and further engagement with relevant stakeholders is envisaged as part of the process of clarifying issues and preparing the report's conclusions and recommendations..

Question No. 744 answered with Question No. 724.

Mortgage to Rent Scheme

 745. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the changes that have been made in 2017 to the mortgage-to-rent scheme; his plans to further modify the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42441/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Review of the Mortgage-to-Rent, MTR, Scheme, published on 8 February 2017, introduced a range of amendments to the eligibility criteria and administration of the MTR scheme in order for it to work better for borrowers.   

  The review, available at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/changes-in-mortgage-to-rent-scheme/, explored the avenues and impediments to participation in the scheme and recommended a number of actions to make the scheme work better for borrowers. Key changes include:

  - Lenders are now required to formally communicate with borrowers as to why they are not suitable for the scheme;

  - The property price threshold for a house in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow has been increased to €365,000 (from €350,000), while the threshold for an apartment/townhouse in these areas is being increased to €310,000 (from €300,000). For the rest of the country, the threshold for a house has been increased to €280,000 (from €250,000) and for an apartment/townhouse to €210,000 (from €190,000).

  - Flexibility has been provided in relation to the size of properties which qualify for the scheme. In practical terms, this means that an assessment of the property size suitable to a particular household now allows for a maximum of two additional bedrooms in the property above the actual needs of the household, with the property still being considered eligible.

  - The administrative process has been streamlined including certain steps of the MTR process now being required to be completed prior to the submission of a completed MTR application to the Housing Agency.

  - There are a number of actions to improve knowledge and understanding of the scheme.  A range of state agencies are being facilitated to assist and guide borrowers who could benefit from the scheme. 

  My Department and the Housing Agency are working with all stakeholders to ensure that the actions set out in the Review are being effectively implemented to benefit a greater number of households.

  The Review also concluded that the current financial model of the MTR scheme may not, in its current configuration, be capable of delivering the scale of successful cases that could benefit from the scheme over time. In order to test the operability of alternative funding models for the scheme, the Housing Agency has been working with a number of financial entities who have expressed an interest in working with the MTR scheme to progress a number of alternative long-term lease arrangements. In advance of these pilots and to establish the operability of an alternative financing approach, a targeted market testing exercise has been undertaken by the National Development Finance Agency, NDFA, to test the suitability of the proposed enhanced leasing arrangement to ascertain if they would be viable for a MTR cohort, taking account of the necessity to provide a long-term stable solution for eligible households. 

  The responses to the market-testing exercise have been reviewed by the Housing Agency and my Department, and the next step is to issue a formal call for Expressions of Interest from bodies interested in pursuing pilot operating models. Once the Expressions of Interest process is concluded, the Housing Agency will make recommendations to my Department as to the make-up of the pilots which can then be initiated. The drafting of the content of the Expressions of Interest Request is underway and is expected to issue shortly.

Defence Forces Personnel Data

 746. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on the number of personnel now recruited to the Defence Forces; and the strength of the Reserve. [40677/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel; comprising 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service personnel, as set out in the White Paper on Defence. As there is significant turnover of personnel, targeted recruitment has been and is taking place. In that regard, 449 personnel joined the Permanent Defence Force between 1 January 2017 and 30 September 2017. This includes 99 Cadets inducted in September.   

  It is anticipated that 800 personnel will have been inducted into the Permanent Defence Force by the end of 2017. This includes general service recruits, apprentices, cadets and direct entry officers. A new recruitment campaign is under way with a closing date of 27 October 2017. This will provide a panel from which recruits will be drawn in 2018.   

  The current effective strength (as of 31 August 2017) of the Army Reserve, AR, and Naval Service Reserve, NSR, is set out in the table:   

- No.
Army Reserve (AR) 1,789
Naval Service Reserve (NSR) 127
Total 1,916


  98 personnel have been inducted to the AR and NSR to date this year (30 September 2017) as follows:

  - 82 Army Reserve;

  - 16 Naval Service Reserve.

  I remain committed to increasing recruitment to both the PDF, the AR and NSR. In the context of both finite resources and personnel, it is necessary to strike an appropriate balance in terms of PDF and RDF recruitment, to deliver the desired effects of maintaining the capacity of the Defence Forces to undertake all roles assigned to it by Government.

Military Medals

 747. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the date on which the surviving veterans of the siege of Jadotville and the family members of deceased veterans will be presented with their medals; the details of the design; and the status of the medals. [42466/17]

 750. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the date on which the surviving veterans of the siege of Jadotville and the family members of deceased veterans will be presented with their medals; and the design and status of the medals. [42212/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 747 and 750 together.

  The former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., and I decided on 13 June last to award a medal to the men of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion and, in the case of those members who are deceased, to their next of kin, to give full and due recognition in honour of the courageous actions of the men during the siege at Jadotville in September 1961. This fully recognises their bravery and courage during the unique circumstances of the Siege of Jadotville. This was an initiative I had been working on for some time, and I was privileged to be able to take the decision to award a medal to the men of “A” Company.    

  Officials in my Department have been progressing the regulatory issues around the awarding of a specially commissioned medal, An Bonn Jadotville (The Jadotville Medal). I have recently approved the design of the medal and production of the medals is ongoing. As I recently announced, the presentation ceremony will take place on Saturday, 2 December 2017, in Custume Barracks, Athlone. I also outlined the details of the medal design in a press release on 5 October 2017.    

  The medal depicts a warrior of the ancient Fianna with sword and shield.  To the left is a reproduction of the Irish overseas flash.  Surrounding the central motif are the words, “Cosaint Chalma” (Valiant Defence) and “Misneach” (Courage).  The reverse contains a unique unit identification representing “A” Company, 35 Cathlán Éireannach (Irish Battalion). The word “Jadotville” is depicted on the clasp of the medal, and the medal ribbon represents a combination of an Irish tricolour and the United Nations Operation in Congo, ONUC, mission medal.    

Defence Forces Remuneration

 748. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the payroll savings as a consequence of the reduced manning levels of the Defence Forces being below establishment in each of the years 2012 to 2016 and to date in 2017; the items these monetary savings have been applied to, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42469/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Permanent Defence Force, PDF, pay subhead on the Defence Vote is fully funded to meet the pay costs of the approved strength of 9,500 personnel. Numbers have fallen below the approved strength in the period referenced despite ongoing recruitment to the PDF. Historically high levels of recruitment are currently being pursued, with 690 personnel recruited in 2016 and over 800 personnel due to be taken in by the end of this year. These numbers include general service recruits, apprentices, cadets and direct entry officers.

  Payroll savings have arisen on the PDF pay subhead of the Defence Vote as follows:

  Permanent Defence Force (PDF) Pay Estimate and Outturn from 2012 to 2017

PDF PAY 2012

€m
2013

€m
2014

€m
2015

€m
2016

€m
2017

€m
Estimate 425 423 422 418 416 417
Outturn 395 413 396 390 386 297 (end-Sept)
Savings 30 10 26 28 30 N/A


Where payroll savings have arisen due to numbers falling below the target strength, these savings, and savings from other subheads, have been used to fund priority projects in various other subheads, in accordance with strategic policy objectives, as outlined in the White Paper.   

Ministerial Functions

 749. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the powers he has delegated to the Ministers of State in his Department; the date on which such delegation was made; if there were changes in powers delegated relative to the situation in place prior to 14 June 2017; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42777/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Defence (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 299 of 2017) was approved by Government on 5 July 2017 and came into effect on that date. Pursuant to the Order, statutory responsibility for a wide range of Defence matters has been delegated to me. The principal responsibilities delegated include powers to make regulations under various provisions of the Defence Acts 1954 to 2015 and powers in respect of personnel-related issues affecting members of the Defence Forces. The powers delegated to me under the Defence (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2017 are, essentially, the same as the powers delegated under the Defence (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 314 of 2016) with the exception of some minor changes. As part of the preparation of the 2017 Order, an examination took place of the statutory provisions specified in the 2016 Order. Following on from this examination, statutory powers conferred on the Minister for Defence under the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 (sections 9, 10 and 13) and the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1998 (sections 9 and 10) were included in the 2017 Order..

Question No. 750 answered with Question No. 747.

Departmental Reports

 751. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has published the University of Limerick focus group report on the Defence Forces in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42265/17]

 752. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the steps he has taken in relation to addressing the negative findings of the focus group report on the Defence Forces in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42266/17]

 753. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has met with the representative associations in September 2017 in response to the focus group report findings on the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42267/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 751 to 753, inclusive, together.

The report referred to by the Deputy was published on my Department’s website on 20 July 2017. The report is a follow-up to the first phase of the Climate Study, and it further explores the issues raised in the original survey. I was briefed on the Report at the end of June, and I met with the Representative Associations on 13 July 2017, ahead of its official publication.

I tasked civil and military management with examining the report and identifying those issues which are priorities. While work to progress many of the issues was already underway as part of the implementation of the White Paper on Defence, I have directed that certain White Paper projects be brought forward and that work commence on these immediately.

I have directed civil and military management to initiate a broader view of contracts for enlisted personnel and to bring forward recommendations for my consideration. I have also requested proposals in respect of retaining specialists, providing for re-entry and where appropriate direct entry, for my consideration, and I expect to be in receipt of these shortly.

In addition to the above, I have decided to initiate a review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme. This will commence by the end of 2017.

I did not meet with the Representative Associations in September, but I intend to meet them in the coming weeks to further discuss the issues raised in the climate survey.

.

Defence Forces Representative Organisations

 754. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has responded to requests from RACO in 2016 and 2017 to review both the national level industrial relations structures of the Defence Forces representation and internal Defence Forces conciliation and arbitration scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42268/17]

 755. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to align equivalent industrial relations structures of the Defence Forces with changes planned for the An Garda Síochána associations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42269/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 754 and 755 together.

  I can advise the Deputy, as I announced recently, that I intend to initiate a review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. The review will start by the end of 2017 and will be guided by an independent chairperson.

  Work has commenced on drawing up the terms of reference for the review, and I hope to circulate these to the representative associations for their information in the coming weeks.

Lobbying Data

 756. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of occasions on which he has been lobbied in respect of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill since March 2016; the persons he has met with; the dates of these meetings; the details of the basis of the lobbying; his views on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42288/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe On 18 July 2017, I met with the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, and on 24 July 2017, I met with the Wexford Vintners Federation of Ireland in relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

Naval Service Expenditure

 757. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to Parliamentary Question No. 289 of 28 September 2017, if the fuel costs quoted of €56,600 refer to full costs of the return journey from Cork to London, or only the fuel costs relating to the part of the journey that did not include travelling through the Irish exclusive economic zone en route to the UK; and if so, the fuel costs for the full return journey.  [42374/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As I outlined to the Deputy in my response to Parliamentary Question Number 289 of 28 September 2017, LÉ Samuel Beckett departed the Naval Base in Haulbowline on 8 September and carried out fishery protection and maritime surveillance duties while in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, en route to the UK. The vessel was berthed alongside the DSEI exhibition centre from 10 September until 16 September, when she departed London for Haulbowline, carrying out further fishery protection and maritime surveillance duties within the EEZ while en route to Cork.

  The estimated fuel costs for the duration of €56,600, as set out in my previous reply, refer to the full fuel costs incurred on the full return journey from Cork to London.


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