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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 295-308
 Header Item Regional Aid
 Header Item Industrial Development
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes
 Header Item Employment Rights
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme
 Header Item Licence Applications
 Header Item Basic Payment Scheme
 Header Item Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
 Header Item Bord na gCon
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Regional Aid
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Departmental Reviews

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 58 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 295-308

Regional Aid

 295. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the value of regional aid granted under the regional aid guidelines granted by his Department or agencies under the remit of his Department in each of the past seven years; the value by county or lowest possible NUTS level over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30900/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not provide aid under the Regional Aid Guidelines.

Industrial Development

 296. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his plans for the development of the wool industry in line with the programme for Government commitment; if he will consider supporting a scouring plant for wool, which is currently exported to the UK for this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25986/20]

 297. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his plans to support the potential of the wool industry to develop projects and increase the return to farmers and create jobs in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25987/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 and 297 together.

Wool production is an important component of agri-industry and Ireland produces excellent quality wool. In an industry such as the wool industry where prices tend to move in cycles, it is imperative that the players ensure and promote a diversity of options for the product in the market place. The current market uncertainties should provide an impetus for the industry players to come together to see what business opportunities are out there and try to promote the excellent product in as many markets as possible.

As set out in the Programme for Government, I propose a review of the potential demand in domestic and international markets for wool-based products such as insulation and fertilisers. I am very pleased to report that an amount of €100,000 has been allocated to this review and I will publish further details of the format of this review in the coming weeks. The viability of establishing a wool processing plant may also be included in that review.

Agriculture Schemes

 298. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if the early retirement scheme will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30673/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Early Retirement Scheme from Farming has been closed for applications since 2009.

In recent years, the priority of my Department has shifted to the encouragement of generational change for farmers by assisting the development of our young farmers. There is a range of supports in place including specific agri-taxation measures to incentivise this generational change. The agri-taxation measures specifically aimed at young farmers include 100% stock relief on income tax for certain young trained farmers and stamp duty exemption on transfers of land to young trained farmers.

Under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme, there is also an enhanced capital investment Scheme for young trained farmers under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes. This Scheme provides them with grant aid at a rate of 60% of the cost of the investment, compared to the standard grant rate of 40%, and I believe it is an important support and encouragement to young farmers starting in agriculture for the first time.

Generational renewal continues to be a priority for my Department and will form an important part of the CAP post-2020. My Department and I are actively engaging with other Member States and the EU on these issues during the current negotiations on new CAP proposals. We can then consider in more detail when we have the final EU Regulations as part of the wider consideration of all proposals for the next CAP.

Employment Rights

 299. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue his views on the reports of widespread abuse of workers’ rights and terms and conditions in the fishing industry; the steps he will take to deal with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30727/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Immediately following the publication of claims of possible exploitation of undocumented migrant workers on Irish fishing trawlers in the Guardian newspaper in November 2015, an interdepartmental Task Force on Non-EEA Workers in the Irish Fishing Industry was established by the Government to examine the specific issues identified in the newspaper report and to make recommendations on appropriate actions.

Reflecting the complexities of the issues raised the Task Force consisted of high level representatives from the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Justice and Equality; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Social Protection; Defence; the Workplace Relations Commission; the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service; the Marine Survey Office; the Health and Safety Authority; the Revenue Commissioners; the Attorney General’s Office; An Garda Síochána; BIM; the Naval Service and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

The Report of the Government Task Force recommended the establishment of a sector-specific Atypical Worker Permission system that would provide a structured and transparent framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish commercial sea-fishing fleet.

The Scheme provided for the first time a framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish fishing fleet. The Scheme sets down minimum terms and conditions of employment applicable to non-EEA fishers which are in line with the general statutory terms and conditions applicable to workers more generally in the State. The Scheme was welcomed as a solution to the risk of exploitation and to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the Scheme.

The Atypical Working Scheme is administered by the Immigration Delivery Service of the Department of Justice and Equality. My Department’s role relates to hosting the Central Depository for applications and to the Scheme and to chairing the Oversight Committee, exclusively.

The enforcement of appropriate employment law is not a matter for my Department. Primary responsibility for this matter is shared between the Workplace Relations Commission (enforcement) and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (policy). Any abuses or otherwise of the employment conditions in the Irish fishing industry is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission, the Marine Survey Office, and other appropriate authorities of the State.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme

 300. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue when a 2015 and 2016 area of natural constraints payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30747/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The person named submitted applications for the 2015 and 2016 Basic Payment (BPS) and Areas of Natural Constrains (ANC) Schemes on the 28th January 2020.   These applications resulted in a 100% late penalty applying to both the BPS and ANC schemes for these years.

  This was subsequently waived on appeal and payment under both the BPS and ANC schemes have now has issued to the person named.

Licence Applications

 301. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the status of an application for forestry approval by a person (details supplied). [30773/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The applicant has submitted a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) in relation to this application, which will be assessed by an ecologist as part of the Appropriate Assessment process.

As you may be aware, there is a backlog of licensing applications with our Ecology Unit. Notwithstanding that, we expect that an ecologist will begin work on this file within the next 2 months. If no further information is requested, we would anticipate that the licence should issue shortly afterwards. This, however, should be treated as an indicative timeframe.

If the applicant has not received a licence technical approval for their application within this timeframe they should contact the Department's Forestry Project Management Unit for an update using the email address ecologyqueries@agriculture.gov.ie.

Basic Payment Scheme

 302. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if documentation submitted by a person (details supplied) showing grazing rights for a 2020 basic payment scheme will be accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30782/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The documentation received from the person named is sufficient to ensure that the has enough eligible land to cover entitlements held under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2020.

  Officials from my Department have been in contact with the person named on a number of occasions this week to discuss the issues relating to the commonage in question.

Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority

 303. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue further to Parliamentary Question No. 319 of 8 October 2020, the location of a review (details supplied); and if a copy of the review will be provided. [30783/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The review can be downloaded from the following location:

  https://www.sfpa.ie/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=fFejaiS702s%3d&portalid=0&resourceView=1

  A copy of the review is attached to this response.

  Review of the organisational capacity of the SFPA 2020

Bord na gCon

 304. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if he was consulted by an organisation (details supplied); if he or his predecessors were consulted; the full cost of the rebrand; if he will provide details of the consultancy firm that carried out the rebrand; the reason for the rebrand; if funds granted from his Department were used for the rebrand; and if so, the amount used. [30798/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Rásíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ) is a commercial state body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. RCÉ is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

  The renaming of Bord na gCon (Irish Greyhound Board) to Rásíocht Con Éireann (Greyhound Racing Ireland) arises from the implementation of the Greyhound Racing Act 2019. Given the significance of the reform of Bord na gCon and the greyhound industry with the additional powers and regulations laid down in the Act, it was decided to change the name from Bord na gCon to Rásaíocht Con Éireann. I signed a commencement order to bring certain sections of the Act into effect from 1st October 2020. Section 8 of the Act provides that "The name of the board (established by section 6 of the Principal Act) the present name of which is Bord na gCon, shall be "Rásaíocht Con Éireann." Rásíocht Con Éireann are required to give effect to the implementation of the legislation.

  A brand development project was initiated in 2017 with an external marketing company, Atomic, following a procurement process. The 2017 project was updated in January 2019 to take account of the impending name change of the organisation. The proposal included research, proposition development and creative design. The total cost arising is €64,000 + Vat.

  Following the name change, necessary work was required to be undertaken by IT contractors on RCE's website and other IT infrastructure. These costs will be of the order of €10,000 in total.

   All other work including promotional work was carried out by RCE's in house marketing and IT teams.

Forestry Sector

 305. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the cost of the Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland; if this was co-funded by third parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30854/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland carried out by Mr. Jim Mackinnon, CBE, former Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, reviewed the forestry approval process and related issues. This was a similar exercise to that which Mr. Mackinnon had conducted for the Scottish authorities. It was published at the end of last year and cost of €15,640 was borne entirely by my Department as Mr. Mackinnon had been commissioned by my Department.

  The report was informed by, among other things, discussions with a range of stakeholders including the forestry sector, farming organisations, the environmental pillar, state bodies, Teagasc and the Forestry Appeals Committee. In addition, written submissions were received.

Regional Aid

 306. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the value of regional aid granted under the regional aid guidelines granted by his Department or agencies under the remit of his Department in each of the past seven years; the value by county or lowest possible NUTS level over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30892/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Regional Aid Guidelines (RAGs) - EU Regulation 2013/C209/01 - are open to SMEs and large enterprises, including those active in the processing and marketing of agricultural products into non-agricultural products i.e. products not covered by Annex 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Regional aid supports economic development and employment in disadvantaged regions of Europe. The RAGs set out the rules under which Member States can provide financial incentives to companies to invest in these areas. Regional aid is granted in the form of investment aid or, in limited circumstances, operational aid. Regional aid to large enterprises will only be granted to support new economic activities and/or diversification of existing enterprises into new products or new process innovations. Regional aid schemes should form an integral part of a regional development strategy and the investment must be maintained in the area for a specified period of time after its completion.

My Department does not operate any state aid schemes under the Regional Aid Guidelines. The agriculture sector has its own set of state aid rules and regulations, and the majority of state aid schemes granted to the agriculture sector are granted in accordance with these rules. A small number of schemes are operated in accordance with the General de minimis state aid rules.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 307. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if an appeal (details supplied) will be considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30719/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

  The Community and Voluntary Sector Covid-19 Stability Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups currently delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19. The criteria of the scheme stated that any grants awarded would be dependent on the need identified and organisations approved for funding were prioritised on that basis.

  This fund is providing up to €35million of funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF) and the criteria align with DAF objectives to support:

  1.The personal and social development of persons who are economically or socially disadvantaged; or

  2.The educational development of persons who are educationally disadvantaged; or

  3.Persons with a disability.

  My Department received 1,060 applications during the application periods. To date, four tranches of successful applications have been announced, allocating funding of €30,073,923 to 568 organisations. This funding is now supporting the delivery of many critical front line services in every part of the country. Though the fund is now closed to new applications, additional checks are continuing on a small number of applications and remaining outcomes will be communicated on an individual basis.

  Lists of successful applicants are available on my Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3957e-covid-19-stability-fund-successful-applicants/

  Regrettably some organisations were unsuccessful in their application for various reasons. These reasons have been communicated to each unsuccessful applicant individually. I understand some organisations may be disappointed with the outcome, or may have additional or updated information they wish to be reviewed. For that reason, there is a Stability Scheme Appeals Process, which is being administered by this Department. The organisation in question is currently engaging in this process and a decision will be made shortly.

Departmental Reviews

 308. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the value of regional aid granted under the regional aid guidelines granted by her Department or agencies under the remit of her Department in each of the past seven years; the value by county or lowest possible NUTS level over the period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30904/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I can confirm that neither my Department nor its agencies have provided aid under the regional aid guidelines in the last seven years.


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