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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 393-411
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Value Added Tax
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Public Sector Staff
 Header Item Brexit Negotiations
 Header Item Project Ireland 2040
 Header Item Project Ireland 2040
 Header Item Office of Public Works
 Header Item Departmental Legal Cases
 Header Item Office of Public Works
 Header Item Public Sector Pay

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 5
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 136 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 393-411

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 393. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the employment wage subsidy scheme for the tourism and hospitality sector until March 2022. [17607/21]

 394. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the employment wage subsidy scheme for the tourism and hospitality sector until the end of 2021. [17608/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 393 and 394 together.

I am aware of concerns that have been raised regarding the pace of recovery for the live events sector, and that it has been suggested that the level of support be increased and/or that the application of some of the new State supports should be delineated on the basis of explicit sectoral qualification criteria. However, the reality of COVID-19 is that our whole economy and labour market have been rapidly transformed by this unprecedented shock and nearly all sectors have been negatively impacted either directly or indirectly.

The objective of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is to support all employment and maintain the link between the employer and employee insofar as is possible and has been a key component of the Government’s response to the continued Covid-19 crisis to support viable firms and encourage employment in the midst of these very challenging times. To date, subsidy payments of over €2.4 billion have been made and PRSI relief worth over €408m granted to over 48,100 employers in respect of over 542,000 employees.

Over the past 5 full months while level 5 restrictions have been in place, the average cost has been €380m per month in direct subsidy and €60m per month in PRSI foregone. The scheme is demand led and the cost ultimately depends on a number of factors, including the numbers of employers making a valid claim for the subsidy and the numbers of employees they claim the subsidy in respect of. The cost would also depend on the criteria that was applied for the scheme, such as the employer and employee eligibility, the actual rates of subsidy being given, and the extent of public health restrictions.

I have always been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to the EWSS and, as the Deputy will be aware from announcements made on Tuesday 23 February, it has been decided that the scheme is now to be extended until the end of June 2021.

Consideration is being given to the fact that continued support could be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible. Decisions on the form of such support will take account of emerging circumstances and economic conditions as they become clearer.

The Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 395. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he plans to extend the Covid restrictions support scheme payment for businesses that continue to be unable to generate more than 25% of their average weekly 2019 turnover for the remainder of 2021; the estimated cost for such a measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17612/21]

 396. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he plans to extend the Covid restrictions support scheme payment for businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector that continue to be unable to generate more than 25% of their average weekly 2019 turnover for the remainder of 2021; the estimated cost for such a measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17613/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 395 and 396 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. Details of the CRSS are set out in Finance Act 2020 and detailed operational guidelines, which are based on the terms and conditions of the scheme as set out in the legislation, have been published on the Revenue website at: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf.

  To qualify under the scheme, a business must carry on a trade or trading activities, the profits from which are chargeable to tax under Case I of Schedule D. The trade must be carried on from a business premises that is located in a region subject to restrictions introduced in line with the Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19 Plan’, with the result that the business is required to prohibit or significantly restrict customers from accessing its business premises.

  To make a claim under the CRSS, a business must be able to demonstrate that, because of the Covid restrictions, the turnover of the business in the period for which the restrictions are in operation, and for which a claim is made, will be no more than 25% of an amount equal to the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (or average weekly turnover in 2020 in the case of a new business) multiplied by the number of weeks in the period for which a claim is made.

  I have been clear that there will be no cliff-edge to supports and the Deputy will be aware that both the EWSS and the CRSS are now to be extended until the end of June 2021.

  With the agreement by Government on the revised plan, COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead, a cautious and measured approach will be taken as we lay the foundations for the full recovery of social life, public services and the economy. It is therefore appropriate that key business supports should remain in place until the end of the second quarter of 2021.

  Consideration is being given to the fact that continued support could be necessary out to the end of 2021 to help maintain viable businesses and employment and to provide businesses with certainty to the maximum extent possible. Decisions on the form of such support will take account of emerging circumstances and economic conditions as they become clearer.

  The Government remains fully committed to supporting businesses and employers insofar as is possible at this time.

  In relation to estimated costs, Revenue publishes weekly statistics (since March 2020) on the operation of the COVID-19 support schemes including the CRSS, and these are available at: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/number-of-taxpayers-and-returns/covid-19-support-schemes-statistics.aspx. The most recent of these statistics (dated 25 March 2021) shows, among other information, the sectoral breakdown of CRSS payments to date.

  As of the evening of Monday 29 March, CRSS payments of €410m have been made to businesses since the inception of the Scheme, approximately €260m of which has been paid in the first quarter of 2021. The hospitality and tourism sector (bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels and other accommodation providers) has received approximately €240m in CRSS payments since last October and €105 million of these payments have been made by Revenue in the first quarter of 2021.

Value Added Tax

 397. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality to the end of 2022. [17617/21]

 398. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality to the end of 2023. [17618/21]

 399. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the 9% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality to the end of 2024. [17619/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 397 to 399, inclusive, together.

  Revenue provides a “Ready Reckoner” to facilitate the estimation of the yield or cost of potential changes to the tax code. This is available at the link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/ready-reckoner.pdf and includes (on page 28) the estimated cost of changes or extensions to the 9% rate of VAT for a full year (among other information which may be of interest to the Deputy).

  These are the best available estimates but clearly are liable to change due to ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 400. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost of extending the tax warehousing scheme by one year for the tourism and hospitality industry. [17620/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am advised by Revenue that the current tax warehousing schemes allow for the deferral of collection of certain tax liabilities relating to “Period 1”, the “Covid-19 restricted trading period”. The tax liabilities that may be deferred or “warehoused” are VAT, PAYE (Employer) liabilities, excess Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) payments due to be refunded to Revenue by employers, and certain self-assessed income tax liabilities.

To be eligible for income tax warehousing, taxpayers have to declare that they estimated their total income for 2020 would be at least 25% less than their total income for 2019 and where applicable, that their total income for 2021 will be at least 25% less than their total income for 2019.

In the case of VAT, PAYE (Employer) and excess TWSS liabilities, Period 1 refers to the period when a business has been unable to trade due to the Covid-19 related restrictions and includes the first full two monthly VAT period after the business resumes trading.

Revenue has confirmed that where a business re-opened but has had to close again due to the re-imposition of restrictions, the trade is deemed to be still subject to the restrictions provided for in the regulations under sections 5 and 31A Health Act 1947 until it has re-opened again. This means that VAT, PAYE (Employer) and excess TWSS liabilities for such businesses can continue to be warehoused in respect of the extended restricted period.

The end date for Period 1, and consequently the period for which liabilities can be warehoused, will vary from business to business depending on the restrictions affecting that business. However, in all cases, Period 1 will include the duration for which a business is subject to trading restrictions plus the first full VAT period after the restrictions have been lifted and the business resumes trading.

It is not possible for Revenue to forecast the future cost of this scheme due to the uncertainty surrounding future restrictions.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 401. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has plans to introduce a further six month moratorium on bank term loans to assist the tourism and hospitality industry in terms of cash flow; the estimated cost to the State of such a measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17621/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, on 18 March 2020, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) announced a coordinated approach by banks and other lenders to help their customers, including those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, who were economically impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The measures included flexible loan repayment arrangements where needed, including loan payment breaks initially for a period up to three months and then subsequently extended for up to six months. The implementation of this voluntary moratorium by the banking industry was a flexible response to the emerging Covid-19 crisis and ensured that a large volume of affected customers could benefit quickly during a fast moving and evolving public health crisis.

  Borrowers whose payment break has ended are been given an option to return to full repayments based on the same term of the loan or to extend the term of the loan or to engage further with their bank on suitable arrangements. The BPFI reported, that as of 31 December 2020, approximately 49% of SMEs returned to repaying on the existing term whilst 46% returned to repaying on extended term basis and just over 5% were receiving other supports from lenders.

  As Minister for Finance I have no function in the commercial decisions made by banks, as such there are no direct cost implications for the State arising from universal payment brakes. 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. The BPFI has also reiterated that standard payment breaks continue to be part of the wide range of tailored solutions which are being made available to customers upon assessment of their situation. The priority of the State is to ensure that SMEs and the wider business community has sufficient liquidity and cash flow supports through the continuance of the EWSS, CRSS and tax warehousing as well as the range of grants and loans schemes introduced by Government to help support businesses and jobs.

  SME borrowers have regulatory protections via the Central Bank's SME lending regulations. The SME Regulations https://centralbank.ie/news/article/regulations-for-firms-lending-to-smes-from-2016 set out the required treatment of SMEs by regulated entities in relation to various aspects of business lending. This includes detailed provisions around the credit application process, requirements regarding security or collateral, credit refusals and withdrawals, handling complaints, managing arrears and having in place policies for engaging with SMEs in financial difficulty. The 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 recently wrote to all lenders indicating that lenders are to ensure that they have sufficient expert resources to assess individual borrower circumstances, and to offer appropriate and sustainable solutions to affected borrowers in a timely manner in line with regulatory requirements. The Central Bank’s clear expectation is that lenders engage effectively and sympathetically with distressed borrowers.

  In addition, Credit Review https://www.creditreview.ie was established to assist those SMEs and farm borrowers that have had credit applications of up to €3 million refused or indeed an existing credit facility withdrawn or amended by the participating bank. SMEs can apply to Credit Review after exhausting the internal appeals process in the participating institution, which are currently AIB, BOI, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB.

  I will continue to work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the Central Bank consumer protection and other applicable frameworks will be fully available to all borrowers that will still need support.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 402. Deputy Imelda Munster Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans for mortgage moratoriums for workers in the tourism and hospitality sector for 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17622/21]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I appreciate the stress and uncertainty that many borrowers who are working in the tourism and hospitality sectors are still facing at this difficult time and I recognise that many of these borrowers will continue to need assistance and support from their lenders. In this regard it is the clear expectation of both the Government and the Central Bank that lenders engage effectively and sympathetically with distressed borrowers – in line with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and the Consumer Protection Code – to deliver appropriate and sustainable payment arrangements to borrowers who are affected by COVID-19.

In this regard I note that the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) has stated that its members are continuing to commit significant resources to support customers impacted by COVID-19, and in particular those who are affected by the latest restrictions. Borrowers have a suite of regulatory protections, and lenders have specific obligations to support and work with borrowers who are continuing to experience loan difficulty because of COVID-19. The 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. In this context the Central Bank has made it clear that there is no regulatory impediment to lenders offering payment breaks to borrowers at this time, providing they are appropriate for the individual borrower circumstance. The BPFI has also stated that standard payment breaks continue to be part of the wide range of tailored solutions which are being made available to borrowers upon assessment.

I will continue to work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the Central Bank consumer protection and other applicable frameworks will be fully available to all borrowers that will still need support.

  Question No. 403 answered with Question No. 328.

Public Sector Staff

 404. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan Information on Christopher O'Sullivan Zoom on Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if pre-retirement courses containing financial advice will be offered to public service provider employees who retire before 65 years of age. [17533/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath OneLearning has responsibility for the provision of the Pre-Retirement Planning Programme for the Civil Service. OneLearning is the Civil Service Learning and Development (L&D) Centre, which is based in my Department.

  OneLearning runs Pre-Retirement Planning Programmes on a regular basis, which are open to all civil servants who are preparing for retirement within twelve to eighteen months.

  The Programme provides civil servants with a comprehensive overview of the wide-ranging changes associated with retirement and advice on pre-retirement planning. Some of the topics covered on the Programme include:

 - Social Engagement

 - Civil Service Pensions

 - Finance and Money

 - Taxation

 - Legal

 - Health and Lifestyle

  Arrangements for pre-retirement planning for public servants in other parts of the public service (e.g. Health Sector or Local Authorities) are a matter for the relevant sector.

Brexit Negotiations

 405. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the status of negotiations on the EU Brexit adjustment reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16417/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The Brexit Adjustment Reserve represents an important response by the European Union to the challenges posed by the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU. Ireland played a leading role in securing support for the Reserve at the European Council meeting last July.

The purpose of the Reserve is to help counter the adverse economic and social consequences of Brexit in the sectors and Member States that are worst affected. It will provide support:

- to economic sectors, businesses and local communities, including those dependent on fishing activities in UK waters;

- to employment, including through short-time work schemes, re-skilling and training;

- to ensure the functioning of the required checks and controls as well as communication, information and awareness raising for citizens and businesses.

It is generally acknowledged that Ireland is the Member State most impacted by Brexit and so we expect to be a significant beneficiary of the Reserve. Ireland has already expended a considerable amount on preparing for Brexit, with successive budgets since 2016 providing significant supports for business and the agri-food sectors, as well as the infrastructure required at the port and airport to maintain the flow of east west trade.

Discussions on the Reserve are continuing in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Ireland’s view is that the Commission’s proposed allocations are relevant, appropriate and fair and that they are in line with the solidarity envisaged by the European Council. The proposed allocation for Ireland reflects the unique, adverse and disproportionate impact of Brexit on our economy.

Ireland remains actively engaged in the ongoing discussions at political and senior official level and hopes that agreement on this proposal can be concluded quickly, so that funding can start to flow.

Project Ireland 2040

 406. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the steps he will take to ensure that all projects funded under Project Ireland 2040 are properly assessed for their full, long-term and life-cycle climate impacts; the conclusion of the recent review considering climate impacts of existing projects; and the corrective measures he will take on projects whose emissions will breach the emission reduction targets. [16485/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath My Department is responsible for setting the overall multi-annual capital expenditure ceilings for each Ministerial Vote Group as set out in the National Development Plan and Project Ireland 2040. My Department is also responsible for maintaining the national frameworks within which Departments operate to ensure appropriate accounting for and value for money in public expenditure such as the Public Spending Code. The Public Spending Code sets the value for money requirements and guidance for evaluating, planning and managing capital projects. Management and delivery of investment projects and public services within allocation and the national frameworks is a key responsibility of every Department and Minister as indeed will be meeting the ambitious climate targets envisaged in the Programme for Government and Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill.

The role of public investment in delivering on Ireland’s climate targets is being assessed as part of the ongoing review of the National Development Plan. Climate was an important consideration in the development of the current National Development Plan and is also in the ongoing appraisal of projects and programmes. However, in recognition of the need for systemic change, there will be an overarching focus on climate action throughout the new National Development Plan. It is intended that Departments will be required to assess their spending proposals/allocations against a range of environmental outcomes to ensure that their investment priorities are aligned with Ireland’s climate and environmental objectives. To complement this sectoral assessment of the National Development Plan, my Department is proposing that the whole of the National Development Plan is assessed against a suitable climate/environmental methodology which is line with international good practices.

It is important to note that the National Development Plan is not a vehicle through which investment proposals are approved. All project and programme proposals included in the Plan are subject to the detailed rigour of the Public Spending Code. The Public Spending Code is not static. It is updated regularly to reflect lessons learned and international good practice. My Department has an ongoing body of work to strengthen the Public Spending Code requirements and guidance to support public bodies in their evaluation, planning and management of capital projects. This includes strengthening the consideration of environmental and climate factors in project appraisal, planning and delivery. In particular, I anticipate altering the shadow cost of carbon that applies to all projects once the higher targets envisaged in the draft Climate Action Bill are adopted. This will ensure that the amount of emissions a project may give rise to is quantified and a value placed on those emissions that reflects the cost that society will have to bear to eliminate these emissions in the future. This in turn allows the appraisal to determine if this future burden outweighs any benefits the project may bring.

Project Ireland 2040

 407. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if he will include climate policy and environmental expertise in the reformed Project Ireland 2040 delivery board to bring additional independent expert knowledge into the process; and the other areas of expertise that will be included. [16486/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath As a matter of good governance, I will be appointing four new members to the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board to provide it with additional external expertise and to enhance the 'challenge function'. Applicants will be required to have experience in project delivery in either the public or private sectors with skills relevant to the themes underpinning the revised National Development Plan, including at least one of the following:

 - Delivery of environmental projects or environmental components of investment;

 - A detailed understanding of regional delivery and strategy; and

 - The role of investment in supporting enterprise and business innovation.

  They will be required to have familiarity with one or more of the following sectors: national roads, public transport including buses and light rail, water and wastewater, new and replacement hospital infrastructure, higher education, flooding, historic properties, and regeneration. In making these appointments I will also have regard to the desirability for gender balance on the Delivery Board.   

  It is intended that these external members will be appointed subject to a competitive process using the State Boards website.

Office of Public Works

 408. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the estimated completion date of the construction works on the Lady Justice arch in Dublin Castle; the percentage of work that has been completed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16511/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan 'Lady Justice Arch', more commonly known as the 'Gates of Justice' at the Cork Hill entrance to Dublin Castle, involve brick and stonework repair & replacement, along with core structural stabilisation. These works have been paused since 8th January last in accordance with the Government's Covid-19 restrictions.

It is estimated that the remaining works may take up to three months to complete following the resumption of works on site. The stone works are currently estimated to be ninety-five percent complete and arch stabilisation works are currently estimated to be twenty percent complete. Following the completion of these works, the gates will be cleaned, scaffolds / compounds will be dismantled, light fittings will be installed and a general site clean-up undertaken.

Departmental Legal Cases

 409. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if his attention has been drawn to instances of litigation or the threat of litigation arising from the inclusion of social clauses in public procurement contracts in each of the years from 2017 to 2020. [16598/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath My attention has not been drawn to any instances of litigation where there is a realistic prospect of a formal legal challenge being commenced in 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 arising from the inclusion of social clauses in public procurement contracts. I can also confirm that I am not aware of any current applications to the courts arising from the inclusion of social clauses under public procurement contracts relating to my Department.

Office of Public Works

 410. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if a proposal which was sent to the Office of Public Works by a group (details supplied) has been received; the action being taken on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16810/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I can confirm that a proposal by the Cabinteely Tidy Towns Heritage Sub-Committee was received by the Office of Public Works. OPW fully acknowledges that the group has a deep commitment to the site in general and that, in regard to the two high crosses, advocates for their removal and relocation to a safe and suitable environment. Aside from interacting with the group, OPW has also liaised with the National Museum of Ireland and the local authority in planning the future for these monuments. It should be noted that while a number of bodies including the OPW will have input, the National Museum of Ireland is ultimately the lead responsible agency. Nevertheless, OPW continues to engage with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Museum and it seems likely that there will be further discussions and deliberations necessary before final decisions are taken.

Public Sector Pay

 411. Deputy Cormac Devlin Information on Cormac Devlin Zoom on Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if he has considered the review of the impact of the financial emergency measures in public interests legislation on retired members of An Garda Síochána; when the decision will be implemented; if it will be backdated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16813/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I understand the Deputy is referring to the policy in relation to pension increases for retired members of An Garda Síochána focusing in particular on the impact of changes in the treatment of rent allowance for retired members of An Garda Síochána.

With effect from January 2017 there was an increase of €500 in the rate of rent allowance and this allowance was simultaneously consolidated into the salary scale for serving members of An Garda Síochána. The application of the pension increase policy in circumstances such as these was not explicitly provided under the existing pension increase policy. As a result, the matter had to be reviewed by my Department and specific guidance drawn up.

I can inform the Deputy that my Department issued a communication in January 2021 which allows the Department of Justice to calculate and pay the appropriate pension increases, taking account of the rent allowance changes, in respect of affected Garda pensions.

The effective date is 1 September 2017 (the date from which the new pension increase policy agreed by Government came into effect). However, the exact date on which any individual pensioner will qualify for pension increases, if due, will depend on his or her individual pension circumstances.

Arrears of pension will be calculated and paid to qualifying pension recipients as appropriate. The Department of Justice is responsible for processing these increases.


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