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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 224-248
 Header Item Driver Licences
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Road Network
 Header Item Driver Licences
 Header Item Driver Test
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Road Safety
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Value Added Tax
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Tax Data
 Header Item European Stability Mechanism
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Sport Ireland
 Header Item Wildlife Conservation
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 81 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 224-248

Driver Licences

 224. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan further to Parliamentary Question No. 188 of 3 December 2020 and in view of information on the NDLS (details supplied), if persons who obtained their class B manual driver licence prior to 30 November 2013 are precluded from availing of the exemption in question and having the code 78 restriction removed from their driver licence record upon request. [42742/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I can confirm that those who obtained their manual driving licence for category B prior to 2013 can have the automatic transmission code (code 78) removed from category C and D driving licences upon request.  There is a cost associated with having a driving licence re-issued.

Road Network

 225. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the capital expenditure on the M20 from 2010 to date. [42743/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme.  Once funding arrangements have been put in place with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.    In this context, TII is best placed to advise on the capital expenditure on the N/M20 from 2010 to date.  I am therefore referring your question to them for direct reply.  Please adviswe my office if you have not had a reply within 10 days.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Network

 226. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan the process by which the north ring road was taken into account to ensure the designs of the M20 accomplish the best outcome for both roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42744/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals.   In this context, TII is best placed to update you on the N/M20 scheme.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Road Network

 227. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if houses, businesses, historical and community areas were considered in the planning process of the M20; and the steps taken to consult with persons affected by the proposed routes in the pre-planning stages. [42745/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals.   In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the progress of this project.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Driver Licences

 228. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan when a driver licence application by a person (details supplied) will be processed; if it will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42763/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton All enquires relating to driver licensing are handled by the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS), provided by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). My Department does not have access to individual applications.

  I have forwarded the Deputy's query to the RSA for direct reply. If he has not heard from them in 10 working days I would ask that he contact my office directly.

Driver Test

 229. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan when a driver test date will be given for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42764/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton The scheduling of driving tests is the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and I have no information on individual cases. I have therefore referred this question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.   

Departmental Expenditure

 230. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he has provided funding for the purchase of buses which rely on petrol and diesel fossil fuels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42768/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  At a policy level the commitment is clear - no new diesel-only (nor petrol-only) buses for the urban PSO bus fleets are to be purchased, and all new purchases are currently hybrids and alternatively-fuelled technologies. Indeed it is my strong desire to build upon this progress and accelerate the move toward zero-emission urban buses and I am exploring available opportunities in that regard.   

  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure, including the provision of the PSO bus fleet.   

  Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Road Safety

 231. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if he will initiate a safety review of a bridge (details supplied) on a national secondary route in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42805/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for overall policy and securing exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the operation, maintenance  and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  This is also subject to the Public Spending Code Guidelines and the necessary statutory approvals.   In this context, TII is best placed to advise you.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 51

Road Projects

 232. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan if an application for funding had been submitted by a local authority (details supplied) in respect of a bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42806/20]

Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific Grant Programme are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis.  All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code (PSC) and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework (CAF). Given the limited funding available for regional and local road improvement projects it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind.

As required under the project appraisal guidelines, a Preliminary Appraisal has been received from Kerry County Council concerning works on Listry Bridge. All applications received from local authorities for Specific Grant allocations have to be assessed taking into account competing projects and the budget available for road improvement schemes.

As regards grant expenditure to date on this scheme, details of the regional and local road grant allocations and payments to local authorities are outlined in the regional and local road grant booklets which are available in the Oireachtas Library.  As regards 2020, €200,000 was allocated to the Listry Bridge scheme at the start of the year, however, none of the allocation was drawn down.

It is expected that allocations for regional and local roads for 2021 will be announced early in 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 233. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will expand the qualifying criteria for the Covid restrictions support scheme in order that persons (details supplied) who do not have a business premises can avail of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42541/20]

 239. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of businesses that have applied for the Covid restrictions support scheme to date; the number of applications that have been successful; the value of the financial support by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42786/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 and 239 together.

  The CRSS is a targeted support for businesses significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by the Government under public health Regulations to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It applies to businesses who, under the specific terms of the regulations, are required to prohibit or significantly restrict members of the public from accessing their business premises, with the result that the business is required to temporarily close or to operate at significantly reduced levels. Support provided under CRSS is intended to enable businesses to meet normal fixed costs associated with their business premises such as rent, insurance, utilities and so on, during the period which they are subject to such restrictions. Where a business does not ordinarily operate from a fixed business premises located in a region that is subject to restrictions, such as a photographer, that business will not meet the eligibility criteria.

  Deputies will be aware that the Finance Bill is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas and I have no plans to extend eligibility of the scheme.

The CRSS is an additional measure for businesses in a region subject to significant Covid-19 restrictions. Businesses who do not qualify under this scheme may be entitled to support under various measures put in place by Government, including existing supports available under the COVID Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)   and the range of measures announced as part of Budget 2021 to support  particular sectors including Tourism and live entertainment. They may also be eligible to warehouse VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts and also excess payments received by employers under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the balance of Income Tax for 2019 and Preliminary Tax for 2020 for self-assessed taxpayers if applicable. 

Revenue is publishing regular statistical updates on the operation of the Employment Wage Support Scheme (EWSS) and the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), which are available at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/number-of-taxpayers-and-returns/covid-19-support-schemes-statistics.aspx .

  I am advised that the latest CRSS information by county is published at the above link. These statistics will be updated every Thursday (and published at the same link) with the most recent available data.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 234. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the additional forbearance he will be requiring of the banks on mortgage repayments for those employed and self-employed workers affected by the second lockdown, the third in County Kildare, in order for them to keep their homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42573/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am conscious that, despite the fact that our economy is now reopening, many borrowers continue to be impacted by the economic consequences of Covid-19, and may not be in a position to resume their loan repayment commitments when their payment break ends or may be in difficulty now for the first time.  I am fully aware of the stress and uncertainty that these borrowers are facing, and they will continue to need assistance and support from their lenders.  As the Deputy will know, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I met the CEOs of the country’s retail banks and the Banking Payments Federation Ireland on 28 September to discuss this matter and we indicated that it is particularly vital that lenders work with their customers to ensure that suitable arrangements are put in place to assist their customers who are still experiencing difficulty. The lenders indicated that they will ensure that customers who have difficulties in meeting their loan repayments will be supported with a range of options so that a suitable arrangement can be agreed. 

Borrowers have a suite of regulatory protections, such as the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, and lenders have specific obligations to support and work with borrowers who are continuing to experience mortgage or other loan difficulty because of Covid-19. These options could include additional flexibility, and this could be a short term arrangement such as additional periods without payments or interest-only repayments, or, if appropriate, more long term arrangements. The Central Bank has confirmed that there is no regulatory impediment to lenders offering payment breaks to borrowers, providing they are appropriate for the individual borrower circumstance.

I will continue to work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the Central Bank consumer protection framework will be fully available to mortgage and other borrowers that will still need support due to the economic impact of Covid-19.

Departmental Expenditure

 235. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if professional fees are paid by his Department on behalf of employees; if so, the total number involved; and the amount of each fee. [42700/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I wish to advise the Deputy that professional fees are paid by this Department on behalf of employees. However, some of the fees are recouped by the Department from the employees and BIK is paid on professional fees where applicable.

  Under the Finance Act, 2011, the Department is obliged to make statutory deductions (Benefit in Kind) such as PAYE, PRSI etc., on the payment/reimbursement of any annual membership fee of a professional body paid for by the Department except where the following applies:

  1. There is a statutory requirement for membership of a professional body etc.;   

  2. There is a requirement for a practicing certificate or licence;   

  3. All of the following conditions are satisfied: 

4. The duties of the employee and the duties of the employment require the exercise or practice of the occupation or profession in respect of which the annual membership fee refers; and  

5. The employee so exercises or practices the occupation or profession in respect of which the annual membership fee refers; and  

6. Membership of the professional body is an indispensable condition of the tenure of the employment i.e. the job application must have it clearly noted in the document advertising the post that it is essential   that the employee be a member of an organisation.   

  The following professional fees were paid in 2020.

Date of Payment Amount Professional Body BIK Payable
19/03/2020 €582.00 Chartered Accountants Ireland No - requirement for job role
10/03/2020 €314.27 Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Yes
13/05/2020 €330.00 Irish Taxation Institute Yes
30/04/2020 €330.00 Irish Taxation Institute Yes
19/03/2020 €314.27 Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Yes
30/04/2020 €330.00 Irish Tax Institute Yes
11/06/2020 €185.06 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Yes
11/06/2020 €245.24 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Yes
16/06/2020 €185.06 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development No - currently a student and membership required for qualification
19/06/2020 €185.06 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Yes
19/08/2020 €184.41 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Yes
30/06/2020 €215.72 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Yes
20/02/2020 €40.00 Institute of Banking No - currently a student and membership required for qualification
22/10/2020 €582.00 Chartered Accountants Ireland Yes
24/11/2020 €155.91 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development No - currently a student and membership required for qualification
01/12/2020 €152.91 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development No - currently a student and membership required for qualification

Value Added Tax

 236. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding VAT on a product (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42746/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply.  In general, the VAT Directive provides that all goods and services are liable to VAT at the standard rate unless they fall within Annex III of the Directive, in respect of which Member States may apply either one or two reduced rates of VAT. Ireland, in line with the VAT Directive, also maintains several standstill provisions and derogations that allows it to maintain reduced rates, zero rates and exemptions to certain supplies for historical reasons. These standstill provisions and derogations cannot be extended.

In accordance with one such standstill provision, white (including off-white and cream) cylindrical candles and night-lights are zero rated for VAT purposes. Other candles and night-lights, such as those that are decorated, spiralled, tapered or perfumed, are liable to VAT at the standard rate.

I introduced an amendment in Finance Bill 2020 to remove the application of the zero rate of VAT to a category of candles which will consequently provide for the taxation of all candles at the standard rate of VAT, currently 21%. Following discussions at Committee Stage of the Bill and having received numerous representations,  I decided on a later date for implementing this change on the basis that this will allow the parties involved to amend their pricing and contracts which would already have been set based on the zero rate of VAT.  The proposed amendment will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

Tax Code

 237. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 204 of 1 December 2020, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the OECD Model Treaty upon which section 127B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 is based, was amended in 2017 to say that airline crew should be taxed where they are resident only, therefore this legislation is no longer in accordance with international tax principles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42767/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I would like to advise the Deputy that the suggestion that section 127B of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA), 1997 is not in compliance with international law or international tax principles is inaccurate and appears to be based on a misunderstanding of a number of matters including Ireland’s sovereign right to tax activity in domestic legislation, how relief may be given under Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) to alleviate double taxation that may arise as a result of domestic legislation being applied in more than one country on the same income, as well as a misunderstanding of the the status of model treaties, including the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and Capital (MTC). 

As I advised last week, section 127B TCA, 1997 provides that income arising to an individual from an employment exercised aboard an aircraft that is operated in international traffic shall be chargeable to tax in Ireland where the aircraft is operated by an enterprise that has its place of effective management in the State. 

The domestic provision contained in section 127B needs to be understood in the context of the international tax regime and in particular the network of DTAs that have been concluded between States, including by Ireland, over the past years and decades.  DTAs are bilateral agreements entered into by two sovereign States which govern how their tax systems interact.  DTAs are designed to provide specific relief with a view to alleviating double taxation that may arise as a result of domestic legislation being applied in more than one country on the same income.  DTAs provide relief from double taxation in particular by granting exclusive taxing rights, thus ensuring either that the income or gain should be taxed in one jurisdiction only; or by agreeing primary and secondary taxing rights, providing that the country with secondary taxing rights should offer relief against the tax payable in that country for the tax suffered in the other country with primary taxing rights. 

If there is a charge to income tax in Ireland arising from the operation of Section 127B and a charge to tax on the same income in another jurisdiction then the exact arrangement in relation to the taxation of flight crew depends on the wording of the relevant DTA.  For example, Article 14(3) of the Ireland-Netherlands DTA grants sole taxing rights to the country in which the employee is resident in respect of remuneration from an employment exercised aboard an aircraft in international traffic. 

It is therefore important to note that the operation of the relevant DTA does not undermine or invalidate the domestic charge to tax, and that, whilst DTAs provide relief from double taxation, they cannot themselves form the basis for a charge to tax, nor do they purport to do so. 

The OECD MTC is one of a number of model treaties which States may choose to adopt (whether in whole or in part) in concluding and/or amending their DTAs.  The model treaties are non-binding instruments which aim to provide guidance to countries in designing and negotiating double tax treaties, as well as in applying and interpreting them.  The OECD MTC, as interpreted by the Commentaries thereon, constitute guidance for OECD contracting states when concluding or revising bilateral DTAs and there is no legal obligation, as a matter of international, EU or domestic law, to incorporate the OECD MTC into existing DTAs or those yet to be negotiated, or domestic tax legislation.

Ireland’s DTAs reflect, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the tax policies of each of the two contracting states, the OECD MTC in the version published when those DTAs were concluded.   In the case of the DTAs concluded by Ireland with other EU Member States, such DTAs were concluded before November 2017, i.e at a date when the following version of Article 15(3) of the OECD MTC applied:

“Notwithstanding the preceding provisions of this Article, remuneration derived in respect of an employment exercised aboard a ship or aircraft operated in international traffic … may be taxed in the Contracting State in which the place of effective management of the enterprise is situated.”

Model treaties may be amended from time to time, and when the OECD MTC is amended this has no impact on Ireland’s existing DTAs unless and until the relevant DTA is amended or replaced through subsequent bilateral negotiations, or its operation is modified through the ratification of a multilateral instrument, such as the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.   

In any event, no conflict arises between existing DTAs and the 2017 update to the OECD MTC, as the Commentaries therein confirm that, in considering which aspects of that MTC to draw on when negotiating and concluding a DTA, Contracting States may validly prefer to tax the remuneration of international aircrew in the State of the enterprise operating the aircraft, notwithstanding the amendment to Article 15.3 by the 2017 OECD MTC.

Ireland is a fully committed OECD member and the approach adopted by Ireland in concluding or revising DTAs has been, and continues to be, fully consistent with that commitment.

Tax Data

 238. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the average rental income tax paid by landlord per property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42781/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am informed by Revenue that income tax liability is calculated on taxpayers’ total income from all sources, rather than being separately calculated for each source of income (such as rental income). For this reason, it is not possible to identify tax paid arising from rental income alone. However, the Deputy may be interested to note the publications at the following link, which present the available information on rental income from tax returns: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/income-distributions/rental-income.aspx.

  Question No. 239 answered with Question No. 233.

European Stability Mechanism

 240. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the examination carried out on the need for a referendum if the proposed changes to the European Stability Mechanism are agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42803/20]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Department is satisfied that the State can enter into the treaty to amend the ESM Treaty without submitting it to a referendum.  The legal advice received by the Department in relation to this, and all other matters, is privileged.

Departmental Expenditure

 241. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if professional fees are paid by his Department on behalf of employees; if so, the total number involved; and the amount of each fee. [42706/20]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The information requested for my Department and the Office of Government Procurement, which is also part of my Department, is set out in the tables below. As agreed with the Deputy, the information provided is limited to the previous 12 month period.

  The statutory position up to 31 December 2010 was that the reimbursement or payment of an annual membership fee of a professional body, on behalf of an employee, by an employer did not give rise to a taxable benefit-in-kind if membership of that professional body was "relevant to the business" of the employer. However, under the Finance Act 2011, my Department is, since 1 January 2011, statutorily obliged to deduct PAYE, PRSI and USC on the (repayment\reimbursement) of an annual membership fee of a professional body.   

  Following the publication of the Finance Act representations were made by various bodies and Revenue issued an eBrief (no. 19/11) clarifying the position.  Revenue says that whilst each case should be examined on its own facts and circumstances, it will allow a tax deduction for an employee in the following circumstances for the tax year 2011 and subsequent years:

  1. where there is a statutory requirement for membership of a professional body etc.;

  2. where there is a requirement for a practicing certificate or license;

  3. where all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  4. the duties of the employee and the duties of the employment require the exercise or practice of the occupation or profession in respect of which the annual membership fee refers; and

  5. the employee so exercises or practices the occupation or profession in respect of which the annual membership fee refers; and

  6. Membership of the professional body is an indispensable condition of the tenure of the employment.

Date Paid Professional Body Amount Paid
01/01/2020 Chartered Accountants Ireland €582.00
07/01/2020 Life Insurance Association (Ireland CLG) €150.00
07/01/2020 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants €349.00
14/01/2020 Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland €200.00
21/01/2020 Mediators €2,774.00
06/02/2020 Irish Institute of Training and Development €208.00
06/02/2020 Irish Institute of Training and Development €208.00
06/02/2020 Irish Institute of Training and Development €208.00
13/02/2020 Irish Society of Occupational Medicine €480.00
09/03/2020 Association of Chartered Certified Accountants £258.00*
30/03/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £324.00*
01/04/2020 Audit Leaders Renewals & General membership €1,277.00
01/05/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €175.00
08/05/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €200.00
08/05/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €200.00
11/05/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €175.00
11/05/2020 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants £297.00*
15/05/2020 International  Association of Privacy Professionals $100.00*
21/05/2020 Medical Council of Ireland €605.00
21/05/2020 Medical Council of Ireland €605.00
21/05/2020 Medical Council of Ireland €605.00
25/05/2020 Medical Council of Ireland €605.00
27/05/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £190.00*
02/06/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £216.00*
10/06/2020 Project Management Institute $129.00*
10/06/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
16/06/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
19/06/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £163.00*
19/06/2020 Society of Actuaries €178.00
25/06/2020 Life Insurance Association (Ireland CLG) €150.00
01/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
01/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
07/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
07/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £98.00*
08/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £163.00*
15/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £190.00*
15/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £163.00*
15/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £216.00*
30/07/2020 Chartered Accountants Ireland €582.00
30/07/2020 Association of Compliance Officers €250.00
19/08/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €300.00
19/08/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €395.00
19/08/2020 Royal College of Physicians Ireland €540.00
01/09/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel Development £163.00*
16/09/2020 Chartered Accountants Ireland €582.00
22/09/2020 Chartered Financial Analyst Institute $400.00*
15/10/2020 Royal College of Physicians London €148.00
21/10/2020 Life Insurance Association (Ireland CLG) €150.00
28/10/2020 Irish Taxation Institute €330.00
29/10/2020 Public Relations Institute of Ireland €288.00
17/11/2020 Chartered Institute of Management Accountants €304.00
27/11/2020 Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy €373.00
27/11/2020 Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy €373.00
02/12/2020 Association of Chartered Certified Accountants €291.00
04/12/2020 Project Management Institute €112.00
08/12/2020 Accounting Technicians Ireland €175.00


   *Fees paid in UK pound or US Dollars

  Office of Government Procurement
Date Paid Professional Body Amount Paid
14/01/2020 Institute of Certified Public Accountants €615.00
21/01/2020 Engineers Ireland €280.00
21/01/2020 The Society of Chartered Surveyors €889.00
31/01/2020 The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland €540.00
25/02/2020 Engineers Ireland €310.00
26/02/2020 Chartered Accountants Ireland €583.00
05/06/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development €283.28
11/06/2020 Institute of Directors in Ireland €325.00
30/06/2020 Irish Institute of Training & Development €625.00
08/07/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development €730.39
23/07/2020 Engineers Ireland €280.00
11/08/2020 Engineers Ireland €310.00
01/09/2020 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development €185.49
10/09/2020 The Mediators Institute of Ireland €140.00
08/10/2020 Irish Centre for European Law €395.00
13/10/2020 Public Relations Institute of Ireland €320.00
18/11/2020 Irish Institute of Training & Development €625.00

Covid-19 Pandemic

 242. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if live music and dancing are permitted at weddings under the current level 3 restrictions which began in December 2020 given that during the level 3 restrictions which began in September 2020 live music and dancing were permitted; if the level 3 restrictions governing live music and dancing have changed since the last imposition of level 3 restrictions in September 2020; if so, the reasons for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42670/20]

 244. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if music and dance will be allowed at weddings under level 3 restrictions as was the case previously at level 3; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42737/20]

 246. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the reason live music and dancing has been banned at weddings under level 3 restrictions under new Fáilte Ireland guidelines; and her role in contributing to the formulation of these guidelines. [42801/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin I propose to take Questions Nos. 242, 244 and 246 together.

The Government's Plan for Living with Covid-19 is a risk management strategy for the period up to June 2021. It is designed to allow individuals, families, businesses and services better understand, anticipate and prepare for the measures Government might introduce to stop escalation of the transmission of the disease.

In line with the plan for Living with Covid-19 the Government has in recent months framed restrictions to account for periods where there is low incidence of the disease, with isolated clusters and low community transmission through to situations where there is high or rapidly increasing incidence, widespread community transmission and the pandemic is escalating rapidly in Ireland and globally. Throughout this period the Government has made an exemption for weddings in view of the importance of these occasions to couples and the level of planning that is involved for couples and their families.

On 27 November the Government agreed the approach for easing restrictions including a phased move to Level 3 nationally, with a number of exceptions in place for the Christmas period.  Currently weddings can take place but with a limit of 25 guests for ceremony and reception. Additionally couples resident in a particular county, but with existing plans to get married can travel to get married outside that county. Unfortunately neither live music nor dancing is permitted at weddings.

Each level of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 contains a “basket” of measures which are intended, collectively, to contribute to lowering risk of transmission in alignment with the risk level at that time. The risk level at this time has meant that some activities have not been permitted such as live music or dancing at weddings. I understand the difficulties these restrictions pose for couples on their special day and the impact on musicians and bands. However, the restrictions are informed by public health understanding of the disease and recognise we can and must prioritise some activities over others at this time.

Departmental Expenditure

 243. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin if professional fees are paid by her Department on behalf of employees; if so, the total number involved; and the amount of each fee. [42710/20]

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Catherine Martin): Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin My Department reimburses employees for Professional Membership Fees. To date in 2020, a total of just over €4,000.00 has been paid in respect of 16 reimbursements.

Organisation Amount Paid
Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland € 40.00
British Bryological Society € 32.23
Chartered Accountants of Ireland € 1,746.00
Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors € 460.73
CIPD € 1,093.85
Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland € 100.00
Life Insurance Association Ireland  € 150.00
Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland € 540.00
Society of Irish Foresters € 165.00


   

  Question No. 244 answered with Question No. 242.

Sport Ireland

 245. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin the steps she is taking to increase the level of girls and women participating in sport and structural inequities regarding the treatment of female sports players; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42797/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The Government has demonstrated its commitment to women's sport over many years, and considerable Exchequer funding has been allocated to programmes aimed at encouraging active and social participation in sport by women and girls.  A fundamental aim of the Government’s National Sports Policy 2018 -2027 is to increase the levels of participation in sport and physical activity across the population over the period of the policy, with a specific focus on less represented groups including women and girls.

Sport Ireland, which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport, including the allocation of funding under its various programmes. It also has responsibility for the development of strategies for increasing participation in sport, including participation by women and girls.  In 2019, Sport Ireland launched its Policy on Women in Sport. The policy expresses Sport Ireland’s commitment to women in sport. It builds on the significant work that has already been undertaken in this area within the sport sector to date and, in recognising the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of women through their involvement in sport, it provides a blueprint for Sport Ireland’s future work. 

Sport Ireland does not provide funding direct to clubs but channels its funding through the National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs).  In addition to funding allocated to NGBs under core grants and high performance programme, Sport Ireland also allocates funding to NGBs under the Women in Sport (WIS) programme. The WIS programme was established in 2005 and has provided funding support of over €20 million to a broad range of programmes aimed at increasing participation by women and girls. 

As part of the new Women in Sport Policy, a revised Women in Sport investment programme was launched last year with an investment of €3 million over the two years 2019 and 2020. This doubled the funding for the Women in Sport programme.   The two year funding will enable NGBs to make significant progress in their strategic objectives for women in sport. 

I am arranging for Sport Ireland to provide the Deputy with a comprehensive outline of its strategies and initiatives in place to increase participation by women and girls.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days. 

In relation to capital supports, the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCEP and to prioritise the investment in disadvantaged areas. On 30th November, Minister Catherine Martin and I announced that a new 2020 round of the Programme was opening with applications accepted up until 12th February, 2021. At least €40 million is being made available. One of the key criteria in scoring applications has always been whether the proposed project will increase participation including the likelihood of increasing female participation. I expect that projects likely to increase female participation will again be prioritised when the scoring system for this new round is finalised.

With regard to structural funding inequalities, I believe that these can best be addressed by the development of a common funding approach and framework to guide an equitable distribution of State funding in the future. I have already discussed this matter with Sport Ireland and I am committed to ensuring that it is progressed in the short term. Sport Ireland has also recently commissioned an independent report into its player support funding programmes and I look forward to receiving the outcome of that report from Sport Ireland in the early part of next year.

  Question No. 246 answered with Question No. 242.

Wildlife Conservation

 247. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the steps being taken to ensure Ireland is meeting legal responsibilities under SI No. 285 of 2011 - European Communities Conservation of Wild Birds (Malahide Estuary Special Protection Area 004025) Regulations 2011 in terms of protecting the Malahide Estuary area of special protection. [42735/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Malcolm Noonan): Information on Malcolm Noonan Zoom on Malcolm Noonan Regulation 5 of the European Communities (Conservation of Wild Birds (Malahide Estuary Special Protection Area 004025)) Regulations 2011 provides that certain operations or activities may not take place within or affecting the Malahide Estuary Special Protection Area without the prior written consent of the Minister or of another public authority, where applicable. These operations and activities are those which have the potential to cause disturbance or damage to the bird species and their habitats specified in the Regulations. It is an offence to undertake the operation or activity without the prior consent of the Minister, if such consent is required. Any person who commits such an offence is liable on conviction to a fine or a term of imprisonment or both.

Landowners or occupiers should apply to the local National Parks and Wildlife Service office of the Department in order to obtain consent for an operation or activity that requires Ministerial consent.

Social and Affordable Housing

 248. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the steps that can be taken to rectify the ongoing situation in a development (details supplied) which contravenes the spirit of Part V of the Housing Act 2000 by encouraging the segregation of the recipients of social housing in the development from services available to all other residents, thus alienating them from their community; the steps that can be taken to prevent this happening elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42542/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  Where an AHB acquires units for social housing under Part V, the tenancy relationship is between the tenant and the AHB who manages the properties. The local authority has responsibility for ensuring the AHB are providing social housing to the appropriate standards set out in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019.  The AHB has responsibility for ensuring that all such tenancies are registered with the Residential Tenancies Board, and that the protections provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004-2020 are provided as appropriate.  Tenants have recourse to the Dispute Resolution processes provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004-2020.

When it is proposed that a social housing applicant will be allocated a unit with an AHB, a tenancy interview takes place where the applicant is advised of all relevant information in relation to the proposed tenancy and pre-tenancy training takes place before the tenancy commences.  Tenants are typically made aware of all facilities available to them, as well as their rights and obligations, and matters such as the keeping of pets are covered.  Where Part V units are acquired in a development that contains ancillary facilities on the campus, access to such facilities is not generally covered by a social housing tenancy.  Access to services and facilities outside the social housing tenancy are not a matter for my Department.


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