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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 101-125
 Header Item Industrial Relations
 Header Item Industrial Relations
 Header Item Personal Injuries Assessment Board
 Header Item Communications Market Regulation
 Header Item Trade Agreements
 Header Item Driver Test
 Header Item Insurance Industry
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Industrial Relations
 Header Item Fire Service
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Enterprise Ireland
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Company Law
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Regional Enterprise Plans
 Header Item Aviation Industry
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item National Disability Strategy

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 7

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 101-125

Industrial Relations

 101. Deputy Pa Daly Information on Pa Daly Zoom on Pa Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the engagements he has had with the workers of a company (details supplied) during their ongoing dispute over redundancy. [44123/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I extend my sympathies to the workers in Debenhams who have lost their jobs. I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is for those involved and their families.

The talks facilitated by the Chair of the Labour Court, Kevin Foley have now concluded and he has issued a report reflecting the outcome of that process. I want to thank Kevin Foley for his efforts and encourage all sides to consider his findings carefully.

Negotiations on enhanced redundancy are a voluntary matter between the liquidator and former employees. The Government has been supportive of the best outcome that is possible for the workers, within the legal framework available. There is no legal scope for the Social Insurance Fund to supplement or ‘top-up’ redundancy payments.

While the Government cannot interfere with the High Court-overseen liquidation process, it has always sought to ensure that the concerns of workers are heard, and that the State’s employment and training services are responding to the needs of the ex-Debenhams workers.

Therefore, in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of this case, as reflected in Kevin Foley’s report, the Government has offered a fund of €3 million to provide career guidance, training, education and business start-ups for the former Debenham workers.

This special Fund will be administered by SOLAS on behalf of the Government. Detailed criteria for draw-down from the Fund will be developed over the coming days in consultation with their trade union representatives.

Industrial Relations

 102. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the status of the mediation talks between a company (details supplied) and its workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43818/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I extend my sympathies to the workers in Debenhams who have lost their jobs. I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is for those involved and their families.

The talks facilitated by the Chair of the Labour Court, Kevin Foley have now concluded and he has issued a report reflecting the outcome of that process. I want to thank Kevin Foley for his efforts and encourage all sides to consider his findings carefully.

Negotiations on enhanced redundancy are a voluntary matter between the liquidator and former employees. The Government has been supportive of the best outcome that is possible for the workers, within the legal framework available. There is no legal scope for the Social Insurance Fund to supplement or ‘top-up’ redundancy payments.

While the Government cannot interfere with the High Court-overseen liquidation process, it has always sought to ensure that the concerns of workers are heard, and that the State’s employment and training services are responding to the needs of the ex-Debenhams workers.

Therefore, in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of this case, as reflected in Kevin Foley’s report, the Government has offered a fund of €3 million to provide career guidance, training, education and business start-ups for the former Debenham workers.

This special Fund will be administered by SOLAS on behalf of the Government. Detailed criteria for draw-down from the Fund will be developed over the coming days in consultation with their trade union representatives.

  Question No. 103 answered orally.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

 104. Deputy Paul McAuliffe Information on Paul  McAuliffe Zoom on Paul  McAuliffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his progress to date in the reform of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43930/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Tackling high insurance costs is a priority for Minister Troy and the Tánaiste who Chairs the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment's Sub-group on Insurance Reform. The Sub-group is overseeing an ambitious reform agenda as set out in the recently launched Action Plan for Insurance Reform.

The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to enhance and reform the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). The PIAB model delivers major benefits by providing a low-cost, quick and impartial assessment in injury compensation. However, there has been a decrease in the number of claim settlements reached through PIAB in recent years resulting in higher legal costs and longer times to settle for injured parties.

As set out in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform, my Department is currently considering the role and remit of PIAB. In particular, my officials with PIAB, are considering how to increase the number of cases which are settled by PIAB without recourse to litigation. The 2nd Motor Report of the National Claims Information Database shows why this is necessary. The Report shows there is little benefit in rejecting a PIAB award when it takes nearly twice as long to settle a case through litigation and for a similar sized settlement.

I have prioritised the reform of PIAB and have instructed my officials to examine potential measures to enhance PIAB’s remit and role. These measures relate to both administrative changes within the current PIAB system as well as potential legislative changes to increase the number of cases kept within the PIAB system. This work is ongoing. As set out in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform, we will report on progress early in 2021.

PIAB reform and the full implementation of the Action Plan for Insurance Reform will help to ensure that we have an insurance system which is both affordable and reliable and one which underpins a vibrant economy.

Communications Market Regulation

 105. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill Information on Jennifer Carroll MacNeill Zoom on Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when he expects to progress the programme for Government commitment to enable regulatory bodies such as ComReg, the Central Bank and the CCPC to have greater use of administrative penalties to sanction rogue operators, as is the norm in other EU Member States; when he expects the Competition Bill (ECN+) to be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43816/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Directive 2019/1/EU (the ECN+ Directive) will empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. It is due to be transposed by 4th February 2021. In Ireland, it is intended to transpose the ECN+ Directive by primary legislation.

This legislation will provide .ew powers for the CCPC and ComReg to impose administrative fines on undertakings for failure to comply with investigations into potential breaches of competition law and to bring infringing behaviours discovered to an effective end.

My Department chairs an Interdepartmental and Interagency Group comprising of representatives from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, the Courts Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ComReg and the CCPC to contribute to the drafting of the General Scheme of a Bill. This Group met most recently on Monday, 14th December last. The Department has also worked closely with the Office of the Attorney General, on preparing the General Scheme for this Bill.

The Tánaiste will seek Government approval for the drafting of the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2021, which will transpose ECN+ Directive.

The Tánaiste and I have already written to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment seeking an early date for consideration of pre-legislative scrutiny for this Bill in January 2021, to assist with its timely progression through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Bill will also partially implement the Programme for Government commitment to enable the CCPC and ComReg to make greater use of administrative penalties to sanction rogue operators, as was referred to in the Action Plan for Insurance Reform which the we launched last week (8th December).

Trade Agreements

 106. Deputy Ciarán Cannon Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the way in which he envisages Irish consumers and businesses will benefit from the ratification of the CETA agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43948/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar CETA is one of the EU’s new generation of free trade agreements. It is designed to benefit EU and Canadian companies through improved trade flows in support of increased employment for our citizens. The elimination of tariffs, reduced trade barriers and simplified customs procedures all make it easier and cheaper for Irish companies of all sizes to export to Canada and vice versa.

The main benefits for Ireland in this Agreement include the opening up of public procurement markets in the Canadian provinces, giving Irish firms increased access to Canadian public sector purchasing. Ireland also gains unlimited tariff free-access for most of our important food exports. Irish firms will also benefit from the recognition of product standards and certification, saving on ‘double testing’ on both sides of the Atlantic – a particular benefit for SMEs.

CETA has provisionally applied across the EU since the 21st September 2017, meaning those areas where the EU has full competence are already in force. Since then, duties on 98% of products that the EU trades with Canada have been removed and the trade provisions which make the movement of Irish exports cheaper, faster, more predictable and efficient are in place. We can see the benefits of CETA already, exports of Irish goods and services to Canada totalled almost €4 billion in 2019, a 35% increase compared to 2016, the year prior to the provisional application of CETA.

For consumers, CETA will provide more choice, promote competition and ensure that Canadian goods coming into the EU market, meet EU product health & safety standards.

Business links between Ireland and Canada are deep and extensive. Following Europe, the US and China, Canada is our largest indigenous export market with more than 400 Enterprise Ireland companies doing business in Canada, employing over 6,000 people.

The combination of export-led growth and foreign direct investment has transformed Ireland’s economy over recent decades. As a small, open, economy, Ireland has benefitted immensely from our export orientated enterprises trading across the globe and therefore we fully support balanced international trade and the collection of EU Free Trade Agreements that seek to underpin this. So, I look forward to formal ratification of CETA by Ireland as soon as possible.

Driver Test

 107. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to the impact of the lack of adequate truck-driver testing facilities in north County Kildare on jobs, employment and incomes given that the area is an important centre of retail and industrial warehousing and logistics. [43898/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The Road Safety Authority has the statutory responsibility for driver testing, under the auspices of the Minister and Department of Transport. That responsibility includes decisions on the location and resourcing of driver testing facilities, in North Kildare and elsewhere in the country.

It is important to place any concerns about driver testing availability in the wider context of the necessary responses to the Covid pandemic. Covid restrictions have meant that, since reopening on 29 June, test centres, in Kildare North and elsewhere, can take fewer test candidates than previously.

Prior to the Covid restrictions, it was normal for a driving tester to complete tests with 8 applicants per day. That fell to five per day on reopening. The RSA is taking measures to increase test rates and reduce waiting times for test applicants. The rate had increased to 6 tests per day in September and is expected to increase further to 7 per day by February 2021.

Reducing current backlogs, in Kildare North and elsewhere, will not be an “easy fix”. The RSA anticipate that by the end of 2021 or early 2022 the backlogs will be under control.

Transport, warehousing and logistics sector are vitally important, not just in Kildare North but throughout the country. An effective logistics sector is essential to the efficient operation of the businesses and the economy. The RSA prioritises essential workers, including freight delivery drivers. Essential workers are placed on a short list and may be called by the RSA with as little as one day’s notice.

Insurance Industry

 108. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the key measures under the Action Plan for Insurance Reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43787/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform, which the Tánaiste launched on 8 December, sets out 66 measures to bring down costs for consumers and business, introduce more competition into the market, prevent fraud and reduce the burden on business, community and voluntary organisations in our country.

  The principal action set out in the Plan include:

  - Replacing the Book of Quantum with new guidelines on the appropriate level of awards

  - Enhancing the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board

  - Examining changes to the law relating to occupiers’ liability to strengthen it for businesses, sporting clubs and community groups

  - Exploring the possibility of capping award levels by legislative means

  - Proposing reforms on how insurance fraud data is published

  - Placing perjury on a statutory footing to make it a significant deterrent to people who might provide false evidence

  - Further strengthening transparency through the expansion of the National Claims Information Database

  - Examining dual pricing

  - Strengthening the enforcement powers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)

  - Establishing an office within government to encourage greater competition in the insurance market

  Reform of the insurance sector requires a whole of Government response. Over the next eighteen months, the measures set out in the Plan will be delivered by the Departments of Finance and Justice as well as my own Department. Implementation of the Action Plan will be overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment’s Sub-Group on Insurance Reform. We will meet regularly, engage with stakeholders and publish progress of actions every six months.

  The Government wants a competitive, stable and consumer-friendly insurance environment. The full implementation of the Action Plan for Insurance Reform will help to ensure that we have an insurance system which is both affordable and reliable and underpins a vibrant economy.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 109. Deputy Marc MacSharry Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of businesses in counties Sligo and Leitrim that have availed of the Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43804/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is the largest guarantee scheme in the history of the State. It gives certainty to businesses that liquidity is available for working capital and investment purposes. Loans of up to €1 million are available for up to five and a half years. Loans under €250,000 do not require collateral or personal guarantees and the State will cover 80 per cent of nay claims under the scheme.

The Scheme was originally scheduled to run until 31 December 2020, in line with the requirements of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid. Following the extension of the terms of this Framework, the Government approved, on 24 November, the extension of the Scheme to run until 30 June 2021. It is available to SMEs, and companies with under 500 employees and primary producers.

There have been 1,516 loans drawn for a value of €74 million in the first 3 months of the Scheme. These loans are being drawn from all over the country. There is now a draw down rate of some €8 million per week. This is close to guaranteeing in a week what was guaranteed in the full year of 2018 in the standard Credit Guarantee Scheme. The sectors utilising the scheme most prominently are wholesale and retail at 20 percent, accommodation and food services at 14 percent, agriculture at 11 percent and construction at 9 percent. This demonstrates the strong need and utilisation of the scheme by businesses most affected by COVID-19.

As at 3rd December, 23 businesses in County Sligo have availed of the Scheme and have drawn loans with a value of €988,666

As at 3rd December, 4 businesses in County Leitrim have availed of the Scheme and have drawn loans with a value of €69,600

A number of new lenders will join AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank early in the new year offering new product-lines. These new lenders will ensure increased regional availability of finance.

I want to assure the Deputy that my officials and I are constantly reviewing the Scheme and its effectiveness. I would also direct the Deputy to my Department’s website which has the details of this scheme as well as other relevant loan and grant supports available to Irish businesses.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 110. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of businesses in County Kilkenny that have received support under the restart grant and the restart grant plus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43797/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Restart Grant and Restart Grant Plus schemes were designed to help small and medium sized businesses get back on their feet after what has been an exceptionally difficult time. The Restart Grant scheme was launched on 15 May with a budget of €250 million. The Restart Grant Plus scheme was launched on 10 August with an additional budget of €300m from the Government’s July Jobs Stimulus as a result of the increasing demand for the scheme.

The purpose of the schemes was to help with the cost of reopening or adapting business premises so that normal business could resume. Grant payments were administered by the Local Authorities via the commercial rates system as this was considered the most effective means to get urgent financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Restart Grant Plus scheme closed to new applications on 31 October and the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) operated by the Revenue Commissioners is now in place.

In response to the Deputy’s specific question and as at 11 December 2020, Kilkenny County Council has awarded Restart Grant payments to 1,078 businesses. 1,119 businesses have benefitted from grant payments under the Restart Grant Plus Scheme.

In total, over 118,600 applications have been managed under both Restart schemes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 31 local authorities and the Local Government Management Agency for the efficiency with which they have managed applications under both schemes.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 111. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he is considering reopening the restart grants to new applications that would include businesses that may not have qualified under the previous criteria. [43718/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Restart Grant Plus Scheme, which closed to new application on 31st October, was only one part of the wider range of schemes available to firms of all sizes, which includes the wage subsidy scheme, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.

The new Revenue Commissioners’ Covid Restrictions Support Scheme, or ‘CRSS’, effectively replaced the Restart Grant Plus as part of Budget 2021. The CRSS offers a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels due to COVID- 19 of up to €5,000 per week. Accordingly, there are currently no plans to reopen the Restart Grant Plus Scheme to further applications.

The level of assistance now being provided to businesses across all sectors is unprecedented and ahead of that available in other jurisdictions, and we have sought to ensure that we had an appropriate mix of measures in place to support workers and businesses, so businesses can reopen and restore employment as we suppress the COVID-19 virus.

A regularly updated list of enterprise measures for businesses is available on my Department’s website.

Industrial Relations

 112. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the involvement of his Department in talks to try resolve the issue regarding a company (details supplied) and to ensure such occurrences do not happen again; if it is intended to implement the Duffy-Cahill report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43082/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I extend my sympathies to the workers in Debenhams who have lost their jobs. I fully appreciate how difficult the situation is for those involved and their families.

  The talks facilitated by the Chair of the Labour Court, Kevin Foley have now concluded and he has issued a report reflecting the outcome of that process. I want to thank Kevin Foley for his efforts and encourage all sides to consider his findings carefully.

  Negotiations on enhanced redundancy are a voluntary matter between the liquidator and former employees. The Government has been supportive of the best outcome that is possible for the workers, within the legal framework available. There is no legal scope for the Social Insurance Fund to supplement or ‘top-up’ redundancy payments.

  While the Government cannot interfere with the High Court-overseen liquidation process, it has always sought to ensure that the concerns of workers are heard, and that the State’s employment and training services are responding to the needs of the ex-Debenhams workers.

  Therefore, in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of this case, as reflected in Kevin Foley’s report, the Government is willing to allocate a fund of €3 million to support career guidance, training, education and business start-ups for the former Debenham workers.

  This special Fund will be administered by SOLAS on behalf of the Government.

  Responsibility for employment rights, redundancy and insolvency recently transferred to my Department from the Department of Social Protection, and the recommendations made in the Duffy-Cahill report are currently being revisited.

  I have also asked the Company Law Review Group to look again at aspects of Company Law in this area.

  Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy jointly met with employer and union representative bodies on the 4th of November to begin a discussion on the various legislative provisions that deal with redundancy and insolvency from both a company law and employment law perspective.

  I understand that consultations and discussions are ongoing.

Fire Service

 113. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the Working Time Directive applies to the retained fire service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38396/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The European Working Time Directive lays down minimum safety and health requirements for the organisation of working time. The Directive applies to, inter alia, minimum periods of daily rest, weekly rest and annual leave, to breaks and maximum weekly working time. The Directive applies to all sectors of activity, including retained firefighters.

The Working Time Directive is transposed into Irish law by the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Article 17 of the Directive provides for a range of permitted derogations, including for persons working for fire and other civil protection services.

S.I. No. 52/1998 - Organisation of Working Time (Exemption of Civil Protection Services) Regulations 1998 provides that persons employed in a range of activities, including retained firefighters, are, in relation to the carrying out of the duties involved in that activity, exempt from the application of sections 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The exemptions relate to daily rest periods, rests and intervals at work, weekly rest periods, weekly working hours and night working hours, respectively.

Brexit Preparations

 114. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the measures being undertaken to identify and make contact with SMEs that have yet to engage with the Revenue Commissioners to register their companies in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43921/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar In order to continue to trade with the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) from 1 January 2021, all businesses large and small, must register with Revenue for an Economic Operators' Registration and Identification number (EORI). This is a basic requirement regardless as to whether a trade agreement is reached between the EU and the UK or not.

  This number is valid throughout the EU and businesses can register for an EORI number through the Revenue website using their own Revenue Online Service (ROS) account. The process is a quick and simple one.

  Government has been promoting this important message to all businesses, including SMEs for some time through direct engagement, various events, advertisements on TV, radio and print media advertisements on a national and regional basis and on social media.

  In October 2020, I wrote to all 225,000 registered businesses on the Companies Registration Office Register, the majority of which are SMEs, to urge them to get Brexit ready. I included the revised Brexit Readiness Checklist, developed by my Department, which sets out the necessity of an EORI number and includes the contact details of the Revenue Commissioners for further information.

  I have also promoted the requirement to obtain an EORI number through my regular engagement with business representative groups and bodies through the Enterprise Forum on Brexit and Global Challenges and, along with the Revenue Commissioners, have been monitoring the uptake.

In addition, the Agencies affiliated to my Department, such as Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, have promoted this important message through their own online customs courses and customs workshops. Recent customs specific webinars, conducted by Enterprise Ireland at which all critical actions were discussed and explained, are available to purview on its website at https://www.prepareforbrexit.com/webinar/  

  The Revenue Commissioners have continuously promoted this important message, most recently through its webinar events that are all available to view at www.revenue.ie/Brexit. In addition, in September, Revenue wrote to approximately 90,000 businesses that currently trade with the UK setting out the critical steps that they need to take which included registering for customs. These letters were followed up by phone calls in order to guide businesses through the registration process. Revenue report that the number of registrations for EORI numbers have increased and Government will continue to push out this message for the remainder of 2020.

Enterprise Ireland

 115. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the action he is taking to encourage women as entrepreneurs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43796/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department and its agencies are working continuously to address the under-representation of women across the enterprise sector. Increasing female participation in enterprise is a vital way to grow the diversity and strength of our indigenous business sector.

  In order to optimise all available skills and talent throughout the country, Enterprise Ireland, which is under the remit of my Department, has placed a focus on increasing the number of women-led start-ups and the number of women in leadership positions in companies. To support this, in early 2020, Enterprise Ireland launched an Action Plan for Women in Business with the objective of:

  - Increasing the number of women-led established companies growing internationally;

  - Increasing the number of women in middle and senior management and leadership roles in Irish companies;

  - Increasing the number of women becoming entrepreneurs; and

  - Increasing the number of women-led start-ups with high growth potential.

  The 2025 ambition for the delivery of the objectives is to achieve:

  - 100 per cent increase the number of women-led companies growing internationally;

  - 100 per cent increase in participation rate of women on Enterprise Ireland Management Development programmes;

  - 50 per cent increase in women participants on start-up programmes;

  - 50 per cent increase in Local Enterprise Office supports to women in business; and

  - 30 per cent Increase the proportion of female founded High Potential Start-Ups.

  The launch of this action plan by Enterprise Ireland builds on the success of Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for female entrepreneurships, which has resulted in an increase in the number of female High Potential Start-Up founders. Work is now commencing to implement the Action Plan for Women in Business.

  Increasing the levels of participation by women in entrepreneurial activity acts an important driver of economic growth and as a means of strengthening social inclusion. Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office network have also actively spotlighted and developed specific structures to encourage female entrepreneurship. This includes the introduction of a female only Competitive Start-Up Fund in Enterprise Ireland, and established female-specific tailored mentoring and training across the 31 Local Enterprise Offices nationwide.

  Enterprise Ireland has also developed a series of female accelerator programmes in partnership with knowledge providers, such as Going for Growth and the NDRC Female Founders Programme.

  Role modelling is essential to encouraging more women to establish a business. My Department has worked intensively to foster female entrepreneurship through identification and promotion of female role models with targeted events and awards, including Network Ireland’s 'Business Networking for Women Across Ireland', and the Planet Woman Academy.

  In addition, and as committed to in the Programme for Government, I established an SME Growth Taskforce in September to deliver a National SME Growth Plan to set out a long-term strategic blueprint for SMEs and entrepreneurs in Ireland. The Taskforce, which was made up of over 20 members of the business community from across a range of sectors, has developed a comprehensive set of recommendations. Among these are proposals on how to increase the number of new entrepreneurs starting businesses, including women and other under-represented groups.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 116. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan Information on Christopher O'Sullivan Zoom on Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will consider an additional package of supports for rural wet pub operators that have been closed for eight straight months given that current supports, such as the CRSS and the restart grant plus, are not adequately compensating them for the months they were closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43325/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am keenly aware that publicans are making a massive sacrifice to protect their communities. I am committed to ensuring that the Government offers as much assistance as possible. A comprehensive range of measures is in place for firms of all sizes, including the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities and is available on my Department’s website.

The Employment Wage Support Scheme was announced as part of Budget 2021.Changes were also made to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the EWSS, increasing the top rate to €350 for those who were earning in excess of €400 per week.

My colleague, Minister Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Social Protection, recently announced the doubling of the PUP threshold to €960 over an eight-week period. This will help people to restart their businesses and allow self-employed people to take on intermittent jobs.

The Revenue Commissioners' COVID Restrictions Support Scheme offers a temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels by up to €5,000 per week. For those that unfortunately have had to stay closed, including wet pubs, three double weeks of the CRSS will be paid, as December is normally the busiest time of the year for these businesses.

Budget 2021 overall provides a significant package of tax and fiscal measures to build resilience and help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the Credit Guarantee Scheme.

A six-month reduction in VAT rates down from 23% to 21%, and from 13.5% to 9% will benefit the hospitality sector. As well as a range of additional public capital investment measures to support the domestic economy.

I will continue to work with my colleagues toidentify practical actions to help businesses.

Company Law

 117. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the status of the review of examinership by the CLRG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44127/20]

 137. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to introduce a new form of examinership in relation to company law to facilitate smaller companies seeking to survive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43809/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 137 together.

  The State’s long-standing preventive restructuring framework, examinership, is internationally recognised and has proven to be a successful tool for restructuring in its current form.

  However, I know that the cost of examinership is prohibitive for smaller businesses. That is why I wrote to the Company Law Review Group in July, requesting it to consider the issue of rescue for small businesses.

  The CLRG is a statutory advisory body charged with advising the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on matters pertaining to company law. Its membership is broad and representative of key stakeholders in the area such as ISME, IBEC, ICTU, the Revenue Commissioners, insolvency and legal practitioners and regulators, making it uniquely well positioned to provide an informed view on the matter.

The CLRG completed its work within an accelerated timeframe reporting back to me on 24th   October 2020. The report set out its recommendation for a proposed new process for the rescue of small companies, distinct from the existing examinership legislation.

  The issue of company rescue extends far beyond the distressed company itself and impacts all creditors, often other small companies. Any new framework must reflect the delicate balance between sometimes competing stakeholders and provide sufficiently robust safeguards for the protection of creditors, in particular, employees.

  I am acutely aware of the difficulties faced by small companies in our country and remain committed to progressing legislation to support their long-term viability and preserve employment. The recommendations contained within the CLRG report have been under active consideration by my officials and they have just made proposals to me on responding to the report and progressing any necessary legislation as soon as is practicable. The report will be made available publicly on the CLRG's website when I have had opportunity to consider the matter. I would expect this to happen very soon and I appreciate the urgency of the issue.

Ministerial Meetings

 118. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar further to a commitment he made during Priority Questions of 10 November 2020, and further to correspondence from this Deputy and the office of an organisation (details supplied), if he will meet a representation of content moderators and their representatives and trade unions early in 2021; and if he will instruct his officials to arrange the particulars of such a meeting. [43823/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As I stated in my response to the Priority Question under Ministerial Questions on Tuesday, 10 November 2020, content moderators working for social media platforms play an important role in preventing the wider distribution of explicit content on these platforms.

As I said in the Dáil, I will meet with these workers and/or their representatives to hear at first-hand about any particular health and safety concerns that they might have associated with the work that they carry out. As the Deputy is aware, my office is now in the process of arranging such a meeting.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 119. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of businesses in County Tipperary that have availed of the Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43802/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) is the largest guarantee scheme in the history of the State. Its function is to add certainty to businesses that liquidity is available for working capital and investment purposes. Loans of up to €1 million are available for up to five and a half years. Loans under €250,000 do not require collateral or personal guarantees.

  The Scheme was originally scheduled to run until 31 December 2020 in line with the requirements of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid. Following the extension of the terms of this Framework Government approved, on 24 November, the extension of the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to run until 30 June 2021. It is available to SMEs, small Mid-Caps and primary producers.

   As part of the Commission’s State Aid Temporary Framework, each loan under the Scheme must have reduced interest rates. These are clearly articulated in the documentation businesses sign with their finance providers.

   The Government will cover 80 percent of any claims under the scheme. As per State Aid rules set by the European Commission, a premium must be paid to the Irish state which will alleviate some of the costs.

  The CCGS has a draw down rate of on average €8 million per week. This is close to guaranteeing in a week what was guaranteed in the full year of 2018 in the standard CGS. The sectors utilising the scheme most prominently are wholesale/retail at 20 percent, accommodation/food services at 14 percent, agriculture at 11 percent and construction at 9 percent. This demonstrates the strong need and utilisation of the CCGS by businesses most affected by COVID 19.

   As at 3 December, 61 businesses in County Tipperary have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €2,881,678.

   The CCGS which is currently available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will see a number of new lenders joining the Scheme early in the new year offering new product-lines. These new lenders will ensure increased regional availability of finance through the CCGS.

   I want to assure the Deputy that I and my officials are constantly reviewing the Scheme and its effectiveness. I would also direct the Deputy to my Department’s website which has the details of this scheme as well as other relevant loan and grant supports available to Irish businesses.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 120. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of businesses in County Kilkenny that have availed of the Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43798/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) is the largest guarantee scheme in the history of the State. Its function is to add certainty to businesses that liquidity is available for working capital and investment purposes. Loans of up to €1 million are available for up to five and a half years. Loans under €250,000 do not require collateral or personal guarantees.

The Scheme was originally scheduled to run until 31 December 2020 in line with the requirements of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid. Following the extension of the terms of this Framework Government approved, on 24 November, the extension of the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to run until 30 June 2021.

As part of the Commission’s State Aid Temporary Framework, each loan under the Scheme must have reduced interest rates. These are clearly articulated in the documentation businesses sign with their finance providers.

The Government will cover 80 percent of any claims under the scheme. As per State Aid rules set by the European Commission, a premium must be paid to the Irish state which will alleviate some of the costs.

The CCGS has a draw down rate of on average €8 million per week. This is close to guaranteeing in a week what was guaranteed in the full year of 2018 in the standard CGS. The sectors utilising the scheme most prominently are wholesale/retail at 20 percent, accommodation/food services at 14 percent, agriculture at 11 percent and construction at 9 percent. This demonstrates the strong need and utilisation of the CCGS by businesses most affected by COVID 19.

As at 3 December, 33 businesses in County Kilkenny have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €1,641,955.

The CCGS which is currently available through AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank will see a number of new lenders joining the Scheme early in the new year offering new product-lines. These new lenders will ensure increased regional availability of finance through the CCGS.

I want to assure the Deputy that I and my officials are monitoring the Scheme and its effectiveness. I would also direct the Deputy to my Department’s website which has the details of this scheme as well as other relevant loan and grant supports available to Irish businesses.

Brexit Preparations

 121. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he is satisfied with the level of Brexit readiness amongst companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43786/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Government has put a wide range of Brexit enterprise measures in place, covering potential Brexit impacts.

  Our Brexit Readiness Action Plan sets out a broad range of changes that will occur from 31 December 2020, regardless of the outcome of ongoing EU-UK negotiations. It provides clear and concise advice on steps to be taken now by businesses and individuals in order to prepare for the end of the Transition Period.

  From my own Department's perspective, business assistance measures in place include the €20 million ‘Ready for Customs’ support scheme, which is part of the Government’s €5 billion July Stimulus. Enterprise Ireland operate the ‘Ready for Customs’ scheme and grant funding is available to help businesses recruit and build staff expertise in customs declarations and provide for related investment in relevant ICT. This financial incentive of up to €9,000 will help businesses meet the challenge that will become very real on 1st January next.

  Enterprise Ireland are running an on-line Customs Insights course and also a new Brexit Readiness Checker to produce a report assessing a company’s readiness for Brexit.

  Skillnet Ireland offers a free online customs training programme, ‘Clear Customs’, to support the customs intermediary sector and businesses that moves goods frequently to, from, or through Great Britain.

  The Local Enterprise Offices are running one-to-one Brexit mentoring and training “Prepare Your Business for Customs” workshops, and will continue to offer their grants to business responding to Brexit challenges including the Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters grant of €2,500 and LEAN for Micro grants to assist productivity improvements.

  The €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme, launched recently, is the largest guarantee scheme that has ever been provided for Irish businesses to date to ensure there is financing available for Irish businesses as they reboot and rebuild both through Covid-19 and Brexit.

  We have provided further funding to MFI to ensure it can meet the needs of microenterprises that can not avail of bank funding over the coming period.

  We have expanded the SBCI Future Growth Loan Scheme up to €800m in lending.

  Information is also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Fáilte Ireland and full details on the wide range of Brexit supports are available at: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/EU-Internal-Market/Brexit/Getting-Brexit-Ready/

Regional Enterprise Plans

 122. Deputy Alan Dillon Information on Alan  Dillon Zoom on Alan  Dillon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his specific policies to support enterprise in towns and villages; if his Department is engaging with other Departments on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44120/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar In early 2019, my Department launched nine new Regional Enterprise Plans. The principle behind the Plans is collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise the region’s enterprise development potential having regard to new and emerging opportunities and challenges, including Brexit and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These stakeholders include Local Authorities, the LEOs, the enterprise agencies, the Regional Skills Forum, tourism bodies, private sector ‘enterprise champions’ and the Higher Education Institutes.

  The nine Year 1 (to end 2019) Progress Reports on implementation of the Regional Enterprise Plans are available on my Department’s website and the final Progress Reports will be published in early 2021.

  In addition, my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund was introduced to support the development and implementation of collaborative and innovative projects that can sustain and add to employment at county, regional and national level. The Regional Enterprise Development Fund, which is administered by Enterprise Ireland, has been an effective instrument of policy particularly as a complement to my Department's Regional Enterprise Plans where it has served as an enabler for projects emerging from that regional collaborative process.   

  There have been three calls under the Fund to date and just over €100 million in funding has been approved across 68 projects, with projects approved in every region.

  Ministers Troy, English and I will also be meeting with the Regional Steering Committees to consider the range of COVID-19 and wider economic challenges for their regions and issues arising in relation to vulnerable jobs and sectors and to develop options for additional measures that may be taken for their respective regions.   

  The process of refreshing the Regional Enterprise Plans for a further two-year cycle will begin in 2021 and the Department will continue to engage with relevant Departments during the new phase of the Regional Enterprise Plans.

On 20th   of November last I announced €8.24 million in grants for 95 Enterprise Centres around the country under Enterprise Ireland’s Enterprise Centres Fund. Enterprise Centres are embedded in communities in every county in the country. They provide space and training for entrepreneurs, allowing them to work remotely, access training and advice, and network with other business leaders.

  This funding will be crucial as the Centres continue to offer services to local businesses during what is an exceptionally difficult time. It will help the Centres implement a recovery plan for businesses within their remit over the next six to twelve months.

Aviation Industry

 123. Deputy Réada Cronin Information on Réada Cronin Zoom on Réada Cronin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his attention has been drawn to and is taking steps in relation to the difficulties facing workers in an airline (details supplied) who are continuing to face problems engaging with the human resources department of the airline regarding their payments and entitlements. [43897/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I understand how difficult it must be for Aer Lingus employees facing renegotiations, restructuring and possibly lay-offs. The aviation industry has been devastated by the pandemic and consequently workers in the industry have been severely affected and are facing great uncertainty.

In November, the Government agreed a revised €80 million funding package for Irish aviation. In recognition of the very difficult winter season being faced by the aviation sector the Government decided to provide an extra €48 million in supports for 2021, in addition to those announced in Budget 2021.This year and into 2021 the State will have provided in excess of €180m in supports for the aviation sector.

In terms of the workers' employment rights, the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 provides that an employer must provide their employee with a written statement of the particulars of the employee’s terms of employment. It also provides that an employer must notify the employee of any changes in the particulars given in the statement. Where an employer wishes to change these terms and conditions, further written notification of the change should be provided within one month of the change. The Act provides a right to bring a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) where an employer fails to comply with either of the above.

The Payment of Wages Act 1991, amongst other things, protects employees from unlawful deductions from their wages by employers. Non-payment or underpayment of wages has also been deemed to be a deduction from wages for the purposes of the 1991 Act. Where an employee does not receive the wages agreed in their contract of employment or if certain deductions are made from his/her wages by his/her employer, it is open to an employee to make a complaint to an Adjudication Officer of the WRC under the Payment of Wages Act 1991.

Ireland has a very advanced industrial relations framework, which includes the services of the WRC and the Labour Court. For any worker who needs help or advice, the WRC helpline is available at Lo-call: 1890 80 80 90.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 124. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if his Department has offered or been offered additional funding to assist the owners of wet pubs this Christmas. [43951/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am keenly aware that publicans are making a massive sacrifice to protect their communities. I am committed to ensuring that the Government offers as much assistance as possible. A comprehensive range of measures is in place for firms of all sizes, including the wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities and is available on my Department’s website.

The Employment Wage Support Scheme was announced as part of Budget 2021. Changes were also made to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the EWSS, increasing the top rate to €350 for those who were earning in excess of €400 per week.

My colleague, Minister Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Social Protection, recently announced the doubling of the PUP threshold to €960 over an eight-week period. This will help people to restart their businesses and allow self-employed people to take on intermittent jobs.

The Revenue Commissioners' COVID Restrictions Support Scheme offers a temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels by up to €5,000 per week. For those that unfortunately have had to stay closed, including wet pubs, three double weeks of the CRSS will be paid, as December is normally the busiest time of the year for these businesses.

Budget 2021 overall provides a significant package of tax and expenditure measures to build resilience and help vulnerable but viable businesses across all sectors. We are providing more and cheaper loan finance through MicroFinance Ireland, SBCI and the Credit Guarantee Scheme.

The Government's six-month reduction in VAT rates down from 23% to 21%, and from 13.5% to 9% will benefit the hospitality sector. As well as a range of additional public capital investment measures to support the domestic economy.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to identify practical actions to help businesses.

National Disability Strategy

 125. Deputy Pauline Tully Information on Pauline  Tully Zoom on Pauline  Tully asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the actions he has taken to support to support entrepreneurship and self-employment for persons with disabilities as outlined in action 116 of the mid-term review of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43945/20]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with the National Disability Authority (NDA) on this issue and in line with NDA and best practice advice, rather than delivering separate disability services, the Agency provides inclusive services while promoting awareness of entrepreneurship to the disability community.

Enterprise Ireland has developed a draft “Disability Inclusion Strategy – Supporting Entrepreneurship” which will be put forward for approval by Enterprise Ireland's Senior Management team early in Q1 2021. This draft strategy has been developed in line with best practice and has been developed in consultation with a number of disability bodies and people with disabilities.

Enterprise Ireland in partnership with IDA Ireland also promote by way of seminars ability within the neurodiverse community. For example, a seminar was developed in conjunction with Specialisterne Ireland and "As I Am" (Irelands Autism Charity) to promote the ability and talent of those with neurodiverse conditions and to help address the high levels of unemployment experienced within this community. Enterprise Ireland has further collaboration scheduled with "As I am" in January 2021.

The second session in the Ability series is planned for February 2021 and is being developed again in conjunction with the National Disability Authority. The session will showcase how Inclusive/universal design principles provide opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for people with disabilities.

Following the introduction of the Web Accessibility Directive, key staff members from Enterprise Ireland have undergone “Creating Accessible Digital Content” and accessibility standards training. Enterprise Ireland is currently completing a Content Services Tender for a range of online services and content providers for its client facing platform on which an emphasis has been placed on raising the accessibility of the Agency’s client facing platforms.


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