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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 80-99
 Header Item Motor Insurance Costs
 Header Item Tender Process
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Diplomatic Representation Expenditure
 Header Item Election Monitoring Missions
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item VAT Rate Application
 Header Item Banking Sector
 Header Item NAMA Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Revenue Commissioners Data
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Revenue Commissioners Enforcement Activity

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 80-99

Motor Insurance Costs

 80. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the way in which the CSO acquires data on the price of motor insurance; and if staff working for the office identify themselves as a representatives of the CSO when requesting such data from a company.  [8521/19]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Private motor insurance is one of the items measured in the monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the CSO. To compile the Motor Insurance sub-index of the CPI, the CSO collects premiums information from a sample of insurance companies. The sample covers approximately two thirds of the motor insurance premiums written in the market.

The insurance companies are requested to supply price quotations for defined customer profiles for both new and existing customers. This request is made monthly via email from a member of the CSO’s CPI team directly to a representative of each of the insurance companies in the sample. As with all companies contacted directly for information used in the compilation of the CPI, the CSO team members identify themselves.

The CSO keeps the profiles regularly updated so that they continue to be representative of the private motor insurance market. Each representative profile specifies characteristics such as the model and age of the car and the sex, age, location and occupation of the insured person. The measurement is designed to explicitly exclude any changes in premium that might occur due to changes in the characteristics of the policy (e.g. changes such as a new claim in the past year, older driver, additional penalty points etc.) as the aim of the CPI is to measure the change in prices each month for exactly the same goods and services.

Tender Process

 81. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the status of the tender process for the replacement of the CASA maritime patrol aircraft; when it is expected that a preferred aircraft will be identified; the sum of money allocated for the replacement in the 2019 Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8581/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with consideration of their replacement with larger more suitable aircraft, which would enhance maritime surveillance and provide a greater degree of utility for transport and cargo carrying tasks.

A public tender competition for the replacement of the CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft is underway in my Department at present. The tender competition is being carried out as a two stage restricted procedure in accordance with EU Directive 2009/81/EC, which is a specific Directive relating to the award of contracts in the field of defence and security. A Request for Proposals (Stage 1) was published on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in May 2018, followed by a Request for Tenders (Stage 2) which issued in November 2018. Tenders when submitted will be assessed against the award criteria set out in the published Request for Proposals, i.e. on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender. It is expected that the tender competition will be completed by mid 2019.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment further on at this stage or to divulge the budget allocation for this project for expenditure in 2019 pending the outcome of the tender competition as this information is commercially sensitive and the procurement process has not yet been completed.

In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The NDP provides for a total of €541 million over the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years. The replacement of the Air Corps CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft is among the projects included for funding.

Irish Language

 82. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8617/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe My Department and the Defence Forces are committed to the relevant undertakings of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010–2030. On foot of this strategy, my Department and the Defence Forces, identified certain objectives as being relevant to the Defence Organisation, in particular, objectives 2 and 12.

  Objective 2 of the Strategy is that the Official Languages Act will be fully implemented and that the right of the public to use Irish in dealings with the State and with other bodies will be developed and the appropriate arrangements to deliver this will be put in place.

  Objective 12 of the Strategy is that the use of the Irish language by An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces will be continued and developed.

  In relation to Objective 2, my Department has fulfilled its commitments in relation to the provision of services in Irish under the Official Languages Act 2003. The Department’s fourth Irish language Scheme 2017 - 2020, is in place since September 2017.

  Commitments under the scheme continue to be delivered and include the following:

  - The static content on my Department’s new website is bilingual and there is an option for users to access the site in Irish or English, as is the case with the Defence Forces’ website.

  - My Department has a pool of Irish speakers to allow customers to conduct their business through the medium of Irish, should they so wish.

  - When my Department issues new press releases, it has procedures in place to ensure that it complies with the requirement that a minimum of 20% be available through Irish.

  - Irish Language awareness is part of the induction process for new staff in my Department.

  My Department also has a Líonra na Gaeilge Committee which holds meetings throughout the year.

  Signage at my Department buildings is bilingual and telephone calls to the Department are answered in Irish. Correspondence received in Irish is answered in Irish. This approach is replicated by the Defence Forces.

  Additionally, the Learning and Development section promotes Irish internally through accommodating requests for Irish language courses and by running various events such as quizzes, bingo and coffee mornings through Irish.

  In relation to Objective 12, the Defence Forces continue to promote the Government policy of bilingualism and to ensure that the Defence Forces provide a quality service through the Irish language. At present, this policy is implemented under the Defence Forces’ Scheme 2014-17 under section 15 of the Official Languages Act 2003 (Scéim Óglaigh na hÉireann 2014-17). The Defence Forces will continue to prioritise implementation of the joint Implementation Plan for the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 through the Defence Forces Language Council (An Chomhairle Gaeilge, Óglaigh na hÉireann). An Chomhairle Gaeilge, actively uses the 20 Year Strategy as a guide to progress and benchmark Irish within the Defence Forces at its meetings, which normally occur monthly.

  As well as complying with the Official Languages Act 2003 by publishing Irish Languages Schemes, the Defence Forces have put in place a policy in order to achieve objective 12 (Administrative Instruction A8 para 5). Under this policy, a Senior Irish Language Officer, An t-Oifigeach Gaeilge Sinsearach, of Colonel rank who reports directly to and advises the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces has been appointed. This officer briefs the General Staff and Formation Commanders on a bi-monthly basis on Irish language matters.

  The officer also chairs the Defence Forces Irish Language Council, An Chomhairle Gaeilge, whose membership includes representatives from all Defence Forces formations, as well as a representative from An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe, the designated Irish speaking unit, based in Galway. This Council drafts and presents an Annual Plan for the Irish Language for the approval of the Chief of Staff. It convenes on a monthly basis throughout the year to monitor and progress the implementation of the Plan and to coordinate all Irish language activities within the Defence Forces.

  The Director of Defence Forces Training makes funding available for personnel to undergo Irish Language Courses, and to attend An Campa Gaeilge, an annual Irish Language training camp, conducted in An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe, Renmore, Galway, and at a location in the Gaeltacht. This course has achieved maximum capacity of 60 personnel in 2018 and is likely to be over-subscribed again in 2019. A training syllabus for a one-week Irish language course is promulgated in the Defence Forces’ Annual Training and Education Directive. In 2018, courses were conducted in Renmore Barracks, Galway and Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick. The Defence Forces (DF) provide funding for members, on the recommendation of An Chomhairle Gaeilge, to complete Irish language Diploma level courses. In 2018, two DF students commenced Diploma level courses at UL and NUIG.

  Since 2016 an annual Irish Language Seminar, has been organised and run by An Chomhairle Gaeilge, for Irish-speaking personnel and guest speakers are invited to discuss the latest developments and opportunities in the Irish Language Community. The DF conduct induction and promotion interviews whenever requested as Gaeilge and An Chomhairle Gaeilge maintain a panel of appropriately ranked Irish speakers to staff the interview boards where required.

  Candidates for induction and promotion may avail of the opportunity to undergo interview in the Irish Language. A lapel pin can be worn on the uniform of serving personnel that signifies that the wearer is empathetic to the language and is willing to converse in the language regardless of ability/fluency. In 2019, a badge will be issued to those personnel to be worn on the day to day working dress.

Diplomatic Representation Expenditure

 83. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason an embassy (details supplied) sponsored an event at which persons were not permitted to attend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8546/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Irish Embassy in South Africa provided financial support for a closing event for a conference on post-conflict reconciliation organised by Stellenbosch University in December 2018. The closing event, at which the Embassy supported the participation of a speaker from Northern Ireland, was planned to honour the legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and mark the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Embassy agreed to support the closing event in light of the relevance of the themes of post-conflict resolution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process, in what was the 20th anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement. It was felt that this was a good opportunity to highlight the ongoing reconciliation work taking place in Northern Ireland and the support provided by South Africa to the Irish Peace Process. Stellenbosch University has an existing strong relationship with Queens University Belfast and is a respected institution in South Africa.

I understand that the conference organisers, faced with strong local protests about the participation of Israeli academics, tried to devise a formula which would describe the Israeli academics as being present in their personal capacities, and not as representatives of Israel or of their universities. This was a good faith effort by the organisers, but the Israeli academics concluded they could not participate under the altered terms, which would have applied only to them, and withdrew from attending the conference.

I would like to make clear that Ireland is opposed to boycotts of Israel, including academic boycotts. The absence of the Israeli participants from this conference was regrettable, and this is clearly also the view of Stellenbosch University.

I am convinced that peacebuilding and reconciliation work is very important and a positive contribution to conflict resolution, and I believe that this conference, despite this unfortunate situation, nonetheless played a valuable role in this regard. I understand that other European Embassies and Cultural Institutes who were involved with sponsoring the conference took the same view.

Election Monitoring Missions

 84. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8551/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I refer the Deputy to the responses to Parliamentary Questions No. 80 of 30 January 2019 and No. 61 of 6 February 2019. No request for a reasonable accommodation was received before the deadline for applications. If such a request had been received, it would have received full and thorough consideration.

Irish Language

 85. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8621/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department has been proactive in implementing the three action points assigned to it in the Government's 2018-2022 Action Plan for the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030. We have engaged extensively with the Trasna Na dTonnta Twitter campaign (including in the latest round of activities as run over the period 4th-8th February 2019) and supported the Cultúr Club diaspora initiative.

The Government has also consistently engaged with the British Government and all of the political parties in Northern Ireland in pursuit of an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland, as envisaged under the St Andrews Agreement and continues to seek progress with this as an outstanding commitment from the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent Agreements.

My Department's Irish Language Officer, in conjunction with our Training and Development Unit, regularly encourages the use of the language by Department staff both at home and abroad. Ireland's network of diplomatic missions abroad likewise engages in frequent promotion of the Irish language wherever possible, particularly around Seachtain na Gaeilge and St. Patrick's Day.

There are no bodies under my Department's remit.

Northern Ireland

 86. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the issues discussed at his recent meeting in Belfast with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the political parties; the outcome of such discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8733/19]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The continuing absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is a source of deep concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government. The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.

Secretary of State Bradley and I met with the leaders of the 5 main political parties at Stormont on 15 February, further to our respective consultations with each of the party leaders. This meeting sought the parties’ views at this stage on how a new talks process could most constructively be commenced in the period immediately ahead.

Each of the party leaders confirmed their wish to participate in the institutions again and provided views on the necessary basis for an effective talks process.

It was agreed that the two Governments would engage further with the parties to seek an urgent way forward with a new political process that can secure an agreement for a functioning Executive and Assembly.

Following these further consultations, the Government does not underestimate the way to go in achieving a resolution, but continues to believe that this can be achieved and that there is an increasingly urgent need for talks to begin.

The two-year absence of the devolved institutions cannot be allowed to continue. There are pressing decisions and issues across a range of areas, which require a functioning Executive and Assembly. The devolved institutions of the Agreement are also urgently needed so that the Assembly and power-sharing Executive can represent the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland and address issues of concern, including the challenges for Northern Ireland resulting from the UK decision to exit the European Union. The North South Ministerial Council is also essential to oversee and develop North South cooperation on matters of mutual interest, as provided for under the Good Friday Agreement.

The legislation that was brought forward by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which temporarily suspends the requirement to call an Assembly election, underlines the urgent requirement for all with responsibilities to do everything in their power to get them operating again.

I will continue to work with the Secretary of State and remain in regular contact with the leaders of each of the political parties to get the necessary political process underway to secure an agreement for a functioning Executive and Assembly and North South Ministerial Council.

VAT Rate Application

 87. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the rationale for the increase from a 0% to 23% rate of VAT on health foods and supplements; his views on whether it is justified; his further views on whether this may detrimentally affect the health of users of such supplements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8727/19]

 89. Deputy Seamus Healy Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the 23% VAT increase on all vitamins, minerals and food supplements on health and financial grounds will be reversed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8547/19]

 95. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps he will take with the Revenue Commissioners to reverse the decision to place a 23% VAT rate on all food supplements including vitamins, minerals, probiotics and fish oils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8653/19]

 96. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on whether a tax on products that will have a positive impact on health goes against the Healthy Ireland initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8654/19]

 97. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on whether the VAT rate of 23% on all food supplements if implemented could lead to the closures of health food stores and the loss of jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8655/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 89 and 95 to 97, inclusive, together.

Under the VAT Consolidation Act, the standard rate of VAT applies to all food supplements, which are not foods in the ordinary and everyday meaning of the word. However, a longstanding concession provided through Revenue guidance permitted the zero rating of certain types of food supplements (vitamins, minerals and fish oils). Revenue published new guidance on 27 December 2018 concerning the rate of VAT that applies to food supplements. The new guidance withdraws the concessionary application of the zero rate to certain food supplements provided for in previous guidance and these products will be liable at the standard rate from 1 March 2019.

Food supplement products that did not fall within the withdrawn concession were already liable at the standard rate and this remains unchanged. Human oral medicines and other health products, including folic acid and vitamin products, that are licenced by the Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) are liable at the zero rate, meaning that access to the health benefits of these products also remains unchanged.

Independent of the Revenue Commissioners' decisions on interpretation, I agreed during last year's Finance Bill to put in place a process that will involve the examination of some of the policy choices around the VAT treatment of food supplements by the Tax Strategy Group in advance of this year's Budget.

Banking Sector

 88. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding appointments to a board (details supplied) in view of his request in May 2018; and the applicants being considered for same. [8530/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, in 2018 the Government announced it would cease the appointment of new public interest directors (PIDs), in the banks in which the State holds a shareholding and reform the process by which State nominees were appointed to the board of the banks. Future appointments will be made on foot of my rights as shareholder in each of the banks and not using the powers contained in the Credit Institutions Financial Support (CIFS) Act as was the case with public interest directors. Pursuant to these rights I, as Minister for Finance, can appoint up to two directors to the boards of both AIB and PTSB and one director to the board of Bank of Ireland.

My Department and the Public Appointment Service, PAS, established a transparent process to identify appropriately skilled candidates for nomination to the three banks in which the State holds a shareholding. This process involves an independent assessment panel compiling a list of suitable applicants following which a preferred candidate(s) is selected by myself, as Minister for Finance. This preferred candidate would then be proposed as the Ministerial nominee to the individual institutions, who in turn will conduct the required governance and submit the candidate for SSM approval in line with their regulatory requirements.

In 2018 separate processes began in AIB, PTSB and BOI to appoint new state nominated directors under the updated regime. With regard to AIB, the preferred candidates have been proposed to the bank and are currently undergoing the standard fitness and probity assessments by the regulators. The processes at PTSB and BOI are ongoing.

It is important to note that any company director, regardless of whether or not they are a State nominated director, is subject to the requirements of company law to act in what he or she believes to be the interests of the company to which they are appointed. These are the director’s fiduciary duties which are owed to the company rather than to the appointing shareholder. However under the Companies Act 2014 (as amended) there is a provision allowing a nominee director to have regard to the interests of the appointing shareholder.

I would also note that the new appointment procedure for bank directors needs to have due regard to the distinct differences which exist relative to appointments to State boards. These include the requirements of the central SSM ‘Fitness and Probity’ regime and the requirement to have a broad set of expertise relevant to large regulated entities in an ever more complex banking regulatory environment.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 87.

NAMA Staff Remuneration

 90. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to the increased number of staff in NAMA that earn more than €100,000 per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8579/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I refer the Deputy to my response of 12 February 2019 in which I provided details of NAMA staff remuneration for 2018. It is important to highlight that the total of 98 staff, who were in receipt of remuneration in excess of €100,000 per annum outlined in that response, also included staff members who were employed and left NAMA during 2018.

Per my response to a PQ of a similar nature for 2017, given on 13 February 2018, the equivalent figure for 2017 was 103, showing a comparative decrease of 5 in the overall number of staff receiving pay in excess of €100,000 per annum over the period.

Remuneration information for year-end 2018 will be published in mid-2019 in NAMA’s Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2018. Such year-end information is at a point in time and includes staff who are scheduled to leave under voluntary redundancy and other leavers whose salaries are above €100,000 but who will remain on the payroll until their garden leave expires.

Revenue Commissioners Data

 91. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of cash seized from persons exiting and entering the State by the Revenue Commissioner's enforcement officers at sea ports here in the past ten years; the amount of cash returned to persons on appeal to the Revenue Commissioners annually by port and amounts issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8602/19]

 92. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of cash seized from persons exiting and entering the State by the Revenue Commissioner's enforcement officers by way of electronic funds transfers in the past years; the amount of cash returned to persons on appeal to the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8603/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 and 92 together.

  I am advised by Revenue that cash is seized by them, in accordance with the Criminal Justice Act 1994, as amended by the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005, if it is believed to be from the proceeds of crime.

  Details of cash seizures for each of the years 2009-2018 for each of the locations listed is shown in the following tables.  

  Dublin Port

Year Amount Seized € Amount returned €
2009 297,246 41,480
2010 68,660 Nil
2011 39,939 Nil
2012 79,912 79,912
2013 139,451 Nil
2014 179,450 Nil
2015 414,741 15,145
2016 67,459 21,365
2017 41,801 5,396
2018 19,439 Nil
Total 1,348,098 163,298


  Rosslare Port
Year Amount Seized€ Amount Returned€
2009 40,000 Nil
2010 128,381 23,500
2011 Nil Nil
2012 Nil Nil
2013 18,298 Nil
2014 107,981 73,275
2015 56,420 12,600
2016 9,385 9,385
2017 15,500 Nil
2018 57,238 10,088
Total 433,203 128,848


  Ringaskiddy Port
Year Amount Seized € Amount Returned €
2009 Nil Nil
2010 Nil Nil
2011 Nil Nil
2012 Nil Nil
2013 Nil Nil
2014 36,000 36,000
2015 12,000 Nil
2016 Nil Nil
2017 Nil Nil
2018 56,295 4,310
Total 104,295 40,310


  I am advised by Revenue that the definition of cash for the purposes of the legislation does not extend to electronic funds transfers.

Irish Language

 93. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8620/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy will be aware that the objective of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 is to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language through nine areas of action:

  1. Education

  2. The Gaeltacht

  3. Family Transmission of the Language – Early Intervention

  4. Administration, Services and Community

  5. Media and Technology

  6. Dictionaries

  7. Legislation and Status

  8. Economic Life

  9. Cross-cutting Initiatives

  The Strategy has cross-Departmental ownership and responsibility for its implementation falls on a number of Government Departments in addition to Irish language and Gaeltacht Bodies and Organisations. The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has the overall responsibility of co-ordinating implementation of the Strategy. The Deputy will be aware that an overview of progress since the Strategy was published in relation to each of the nine areas of action is set out in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s ‘Action Plan 2018-2022’ which can be accessed here - https://www.chg.gov.ie/app/uploads/2019/02/action-plan-2018-2022.pdf.   

  The Deputy may wish to note that my Department’s Third Irish Language Scheme 2018 – 2021, which can be accessed on the Department’s website or via the link - https://www.finance.gov.ie/ga/updates/language-scheme-2018-2021/, includes a number of commitments to increase the number and quality of the Irish language services provided to the public and to promote the use of the Irish language in the Department.

  The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language provides that language schemes will specify the posts within an organisation that require an Irish language competency. The Department’s recruitment policy, which is subject to the framework of agreed national recruitment procedures, has regard to the need to improve Irish language capability on an incremental basis. I can advise the Deputy that it is expected that the recruitment of staff to the Department through the Public Appointments Service, with the appropriate level of competence in the Irish language, will be the primary means of optimising the availability of services through Irish. The Department keeps the requirements of posts under review, but currently there are no posts for which a competency in Irish is essential.

  The Strategy also provides that language awareness and language training programmes need to be developed so that a higher proportion of public service staff are functional in Irish and can deliver services in Irish to customers who seek them. I can advise the Deputy that the Department’s Language Scheme also provides that the Department will promote all forms of Irish language further education and it is committed to making available opportunities for staff to attend accredited Irish language training courses. There is also a voluntary panel of Department staff in place who have competence to engage in Irish, as required.

  The Deputy may also wish to note that other commitments set out in the Department’s Language Scheme include assigning an Irish Language Officer to oversee implementation of the Language Scheme and the Official Languages Act 2003 in addition to promoting cultural initiatives which support and encourage the use of the Irish language in the Department, increasing the number of press releases in Irish and creating a greater Irish language presence on the Department’s social media platforms.

  I can assure the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing quality services in Irish to its customers and ensuring that there are adequate language resources within the Department to provide the required level of Irish language service.

  My Department is liaising with the Bodies under its aegis regarding their progress in implementing the relevant actions in the 20 Year Strategy and I will revert to the Deputy with those details in line with Standing Orders.

Insurance Costs

 94. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to situations by which persons who may need to go into a nursing home are seeing insurance companies in some instances increasing their house insurance premiums by nearly four times the original amount in addition to requesting that the electricity and water be turned off; if legislation can be brought forward which would allow a person who had to go into a nursing home to get public liability cover for his or her home in case of intruders on their property; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8638/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular categories of policyholders.

Notwithstanding the above, my officials contacted Insurance Ireland on foot of the Deputy’s query to understand more about the process. Insurance Ireland advised that generally, if a person vacates their property for an indefinite period, it may alter the level of cover provided or an insurer may require that the property is in a good state of repair and regularly maintained while left unoccupied.

Insurance Ireland also stated that if a property is unoccupied, it is important to ensure that measures are taken such as draining the water system and turning the heating on frequently to protect against frozen pipes during periods of cold weather, and that any alarm system is monitored and maintained appropriately.

In relation to the Deputy’s query regarding whether legislation could be introduced to allow for a person that had to go into a nursing home to get public liability cover for their home in case of intruders on their property, it should be noted that Public Liability policies protect an insured person in respect to their legal liability to third parties for bodily injury, and for any loss or damage to their material property. Public liability insurance does not cover loss or theft of the policyholder’s own personal property. The decision of whether or not to take out public liability insurance is for each individual to make in respect of their own property and, as mentioned above, the provision or pricing of insurance products are commercial matters to be determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept.

Questions Nos. 95 to 97, inclusive, answered with Question No. 87.

Revenue Commissioners Enforcement Activity

 98. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that a person (details supplied) has supplied sufficient evidence to show that they reside in County Derry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8734/19]

 99. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that a person (details supplied) is resident in County Derry; the reason the person was issued a compromise release term to release a seized vehicle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8735/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 99 together.

As previously advised to the Deputy in my reply to Question 6323/19, Revenue issued a compromise settlement offer (in lieu of forfeiture) to the person on 28 January 2019 following correspondence received from him in October 2018. Revenue has confirmed that the person has now agreed to the terms of the compromise settlement and payment (of the agreed amount) is expected shortly. As soon as the payment is received the vehicle will be returned to the person.


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