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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 103-117
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Protected Disclosures
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item Office of Public Works
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Local Authority Funding
 Header Item Departmental Funding

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 103-117

Departmental Bodies

 103. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB have implemented the public sector and human rights duty under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014; if they have reported in their annual reports each year since enactment on the developments and achievements with regard to human rights; if the bodies have at all times promoted equality of opportunity and treatment of staff and persons to which they provide services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17891/21]

 104. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB have set out in their strategic plans an assessment of the human rights and equality issues they view to be relevant to the functions and purpose of the body with regard to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17892/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.

  In the first instance, the Deputy may wish to note the nature of the bodies referenced in his question. The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are companies limited by guarantee who are in receipt of grant funding from my Department. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a cross-border North South Implementation Body, established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and jointly sponsored by my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, and is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.

  I am advised that the position in respect of these bodies is as set out below.

  Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

  Whilst not subject to the Act, the ESRI adheres to all relevant equality legislation and the Institute’s policies are consistent with the Act. In addition, the ESRI has worked in partnership with IHREC and the NDA since 2018, utilising IHREC guides to create accessible ESRI publications, and implementing such guidelines for select publications on a trial basis. The Institute is currently working on a project, with research authors, external copyeditors and formatters, to implement a workable process/guide for creating accessible publications on a wider basis.

  Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

  In accordance with the requirements of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 (Section 42), the IPA is cognisant that in the performance of its duties that it has regard to the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and the protection of the human rights of all staff and clients availing of its services. The IPA has a number of policies and codes in place to ensure this implementation. These include Code of Conduct, Dignity at Work and Equal Opportunity Policy. While the IPA has not formally reported on its obligations under the Act, the principles espoused in the Act underpin IPA corporate policy and values. The IPA is fully committed to eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights at all times.

  Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

  The SEUPB is fully committed to carrying out all its functions with regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity as mandated in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). This includes equality between people of different religious beliefs, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation; between men and women generally, between persons with a disability and persons without, between persons with dependants and persons without. The SEUPB has drawn up an Equality Scheme which sets out how the body proposes to fulfil its statutory obligations. The SEUPB commit the necessary resources in terms of people, time and money to make sure that the Section 75 statutory duties are complied with and that the Equality Scheme is implemented effectively and on time.

  The SEUPB is committed to having effective internal arrangements in place to ensure its successful compliance with the Section 75 statutory duties and for monitoring and reviewing its progress. The SEUPB undertakes audits of inequalities and prepares a Section 75 Action Plan to cover the period of the Body’s corporate plan as a means of ensuring effective implementation of its duties through the internal reporting systems.

  The SEUPB is committed to applying screening methods to all new and revised policies and where necessary and appropriate, it will subject new policies to further equality impact assessments. Screening reports include all policies recently screened and include the decisions reached. A full listing of the SEUPBs most recent outcome reports will be uploaded to its website, when available.

  Under Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as amended by the Disability Discrimination (NI) Order 2006, the SEUPB is required when carrying out its functions to have due regard to the need:

  - to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people; and

  - to encourage participation by disabled people in public life.

  Under Section 49B of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the SEUPB is also required to submit to the Equality Commission, a Disability Action Plan showing how it proposes to fulfil these duties in relation to its functions. A Disability Action Pan has been prepared for this purpose.

  Equality Statistics for the PEACE IV and INTERREG VA Programmes are monitored by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and a summary of these are included in the Annual Implementation Reports for these Programmes.

  The SEUPB is also fully committed to carrying out its employment duties and responsibilities as outlined in the Fair Employment and Treatment Order 1998.

Protected Disclosures

 105. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB have received protected disclosures since the enactment of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014; if all such disclosures were reported as per the Act in their annual reports; if there were disclosures deemed not to be protected disclosures under the Act and thus not reported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17893/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath In the first instance, the Deputy may wish to note the nature of the bodies referenced in his question. The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are companies limited by guarantee who are in receipt of grant funding from my Department. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a cross-border North South Implementation Body, established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and jointly sponsored by my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, and is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.

  I am advised that of the above mentioned bodies, the Institute of Public Administration is the only one to have received a Protected Disclosure since the enactment of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. The details requested by the Deputy are set out in the table below.

Body Protected Disclosures received Protected Disclosures reported in Annual Report Disclosures deemed to be not Protected Disclosures and not reported in Annual Report
Institute of Public Administration Yes (one) No – not deemed to be a Protected Disclosure Yes (one)

Departmental Bodies

 106. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if each of the bodies under his aegis and the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB hold membership with a confederation; if so, if he will provide the breakdown of payment to the confederation by each of the bodies in each of the years 2016 to 2020; if consideration of savings on this could be achieved on a shared service basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17894/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath In the first instance, the Deputy may wish to note the nature of three of the bodies specifically referenced in his question. The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are companies limited by guarantee who are in receipt of grant funding from my Department. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a cross-border North South Implementation Body, established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and jointly sponsored by my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, and is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.

  Of the bodies in question, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) is the only one that has a membership of the confederation specified in the question and the details are set out in the table below.

2020*
2019
2018
2017
2016
Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI)* €5,296 €4,591 €4,479 €4,370 €4,263


*   Prior to 2020, the ESRI paid a fee to access the confederation's Employee Related Services but were not members of the confederation. Membership of the confederation was required for 2020 to access these services

Departmental Bodies

 107. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the measures he plans to take with regard to public bodies under his aegis and the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB to have designated Irish language officers and be compliant with their obligations under the Official Languages Act 2003; if the bodies have had their services competently audited for compliance with the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17895/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath In the first instance, the Deputy may wish to note the nature of the three bodies specifically referenced in his question. The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are companies limited by guarantee who are in receipt of grant funding from my Department. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a cross-border North South Implementation Body, established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and jointly sponsored by my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, and is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.

  I am advised of the following with regard to all of the bodies encompassed by the question:

  Office of Public Works (OPW)

  The OPW's Quality Customer Service (QCS) Network oversee the preparation of each new Language Scheme and monitor implementation of the scheme to ensure that the OPW is compliant with its obligations under the Official Languages Act 2003. The QCS Network comprises of members from each of the business areas within the OPW. Each business area is required to reflect the commitments of the Language Scheme in its business plan and monitor implementation, as appropriate. An updated Irish Language Scheme is due to be rolled out in the OPW shortly.

  While the OPW does not have a designated Irish language officer, staff are reminded periodically of their responsibilities in respect of the Official Languages Act 2003 and the OPW Language Scheme. Detailed guidance and instructions have been made available to those who may need to implement Irish language measures.

  An audit by An Coimisineir Teanga was carried out in 2019 on the use of the official languages on signage at heritage sites of the Office of Public Works and its language scheme commitments in relation to the Gaeltacht

  National Shared Services Office (NSSO)

  The National Shared Services Office understands its obligations in relation to the use of Irish, has a designated Irish language officer and is compliant under the Official Languages Act 2003. The NSSO is fully committed to providing a bilingual service. The NSSO is dedicated to ensuring customer service is available in both languages. The NSSO has agents available in all Shared Services Centres to take calls and respond to emails and letters in Irish. The customer service phone lines are also bilingual and stationary displays the names and addresses in both Irish and English, and all customer alerts are bilingual. Both the Payroll and HR portals (for customers and internal use) are fully bilingual, with all information and forms available in both languages. The NSSO was established as a statutory office in 2018 and has not yet had services audited for compliance with the Official Languages Act.

  Public Appointments Service (PAS)

  The PAS Irish Language Scheme 2017–2020 sets out the commitments which PAS has made in terms of the services which they will provide to candidates applying for competitions being run by PAS (and in compliance with the Official Languages Act). The scheme was confirmed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and remains in effect until a new Scheme has been confirmed by the Minister. PAS have a full-time translator on staff and also an Irish Language Officer.

  PAS have a number of staff that are competent in Irish and offer staff opportunities to take Irish courses to learn/improve (increasing general staff competency in Irish is part of the Scheme).

  Responsibility has been assigned to specific staff for all elements of the Scheme and elements of this (those which are the most subject to change) are audited on a regular basis by a dedicated staff member.

  Office of the Ombudsman

  The Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information operate a joint scheme, and have a designated Irish language officer in place. The Offices are in full compliance with the provisions of the Act and also have an Irish Language scheme in place. The Irish language Officer carries out a review of the adherence of the Offices to the Act and the Irish Language Scheme. A review was recently completed and covered the year 2020.

  The Standards in Public Office Commission is in compliance with the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003 and has an Irish language scheme in place. This Scheme has been confirmed by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It commenced with effect from 1 October 2018. The Commission reports on its activities under the Official Languages Act in its annual reports.

  The Office of the Ombudsman provides staff to the Commission. While there is no formal “Designated Irish Officer” role set out in the current scheme, the Commission has two members of staff designated to provide services in Irish. The Commission’s commitment to the provision of services is outlined in its lrish language scheme and includes provision of reception/telephone services in Irish on request; correspondence and email in the requested official language; publication of annual reports and most documents in both official languages (further detail as specified in the scheme); publication of the Commission’s websites (sipo.ie and lobbying.ie) in both official languages; and publication of press releases in both official languages

  There is no explicit provision in the scheme for an audit, however, it is not a requirement of the Act. The Act provides that a review may be conducted at the request of the Minister; no such request has been received to date. The current scheme is in place for a three-year period (2018–2021) and must be reviewed at that time. It is intended that a new scheme will be developed this year and a review of the current scheme would accompany that.

  State Laboratory

  The State Laboratory is a scheduled office under the aegis of my Department which provides a comprehensive analytical and advisory service to Government departments and offices. It does not provide a service to the public. The State Laboratory is compliant with obligations under the Official Languages Act 2003. However, it does not have a designated Irish language officer and has not had services audited for compliance with the Act.

Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery   

  The Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery is compliant with its obligations under the Official Languages Act, 2003, but does not provide any services to the public and therefore this does not apply to the Office.

  Institute of Public Administration

  The IPA does not have a dedicated Irish language officer. It has a staff member who is an Irish speaker. The IPA is in the process of developing its third official language scheme. The IPA has not had its services audited for compliance with the Act

  Economic & Social Research Institute

  Whilst the ESRI does not have a designated Irish Language Officer, a member of staff who is a fluent Irish speaker fulfils this role when the need arises normally in relation to media interviews. The ESRI is currently reviewing its processes to ensure it is fully compliant with the Official Languages Act.

  Special EU Programmes Body

  The SEUPB adheres to the following mandatory requirements under the Official Languages Act 2003:

  - All written communication are responded to in the Irish language when it is received in Irish;

  - Headings of the SEUPB’s letterhead stationery include the organisation’s address in Irish;

  - The SEUPB’s Annual Report and Accounts are laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas in the Irish language, before being published; and

  - In terms of signage the SEUPB’s logo contains an Irish translation of the organisation’s name.

  The SEUPB retains the services of a language translation company with immediate access to accredited Irish language translators.

Departmental Bodies

 108. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if the bodies under his aegis and the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB energy policy are compliant with their obligations under the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy; the bodies that have failed to meet their 2020 energy targets; the measures that will be put in place for those organisations that have not met their 2020 targets to reach their 2030 targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17896/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I wish to advise the Deputy that a deferred reply will be issued to him in respect of this Parliamentary Question, in line with Standing Order 51B.

Office of Public Works

 109. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath when two tour guides and one general operative will be appointed to Kennedy Park and Arboretum, New Ross, County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17899/21]

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 It is OPWs intention to run a panel recruitment competition during 2021 for the above.

Departmental Staff

 110. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if he will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in his Department by gender in tabular form. [17915/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The information requested by the Deputy for my Department and the Office of Government Procurement, which is also part of my Department, is set out in the tables below.

  Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Grade
Number of Officers
Male
Female
Higher Executive Officer 105 49 56
Administrative Officer 75 41 34
Assistant Principal Officer 133 69 64
Principal Officer 41 23 18
Director 2 0 2
Assistant Secretary 4 4 0


  Office of Government Procurement
Grade
Number of Officers
Male
Female
Higher Executive Officer & Equivalents 77 42 35
Administrative Officer 4 1 3
Assistant Principal Officer & Equivalents 57 32 25
Principal Officer & Equivalents 14 9 5
Director 1 1 0
Assistant Secretary 0 0 0

Local Authority Funding

 111. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if additional funding will be provided to Cavan County Council in 2021 for flood alleviation measures in view of increasing problems with flooding due to heavy rainfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17927/21]

 112. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if additional funding will be provided to Monaghan County Council in 2021 for flood alleviation measures in view of increasing problems with flooding due to heavy rainfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17928/21]

 115. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the specific measures that will be undertaken by the Office of Public Works in 2021 to alleviate flooding caused by the River Erne in County Cavan due to the damage caused by such flooding over recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17947/21]

 116. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the specific drainage projects to be undertaken by the Office of Public Works in County Cavan in 2021; the estimated cost of same; the drainage projects to be undertaken by Cavan County Council with financial assistance from the OPW; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17948/21]

 117. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the specific drainage projects to be undertaken by the Office of Public Works in County Monaghan in 2021; the estimated cost of same; the drainage projects to be undertaken by Monaghan County Council with financial assistance from the OPW; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17949/21]

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 propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 112 and 115 to 117, inclusive, together.

Local flooding issues are a matter, in the first instance, for each Local Authority to investigate and address. All Local Authorities, including Cavan County Council and Monaghan County Council, may carry out flood mitigation works, using either their own resources, or by applying for funding under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme which was introduced by my Office on an administrative, non-statutory basis in 2009.

The purpose of the scheme is to provide funding to local authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised fluvial flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. The scheme generally applies where a solution can be readily identified and achieved in a short time frame. The works to be funded are carried out under local authority powers and ongoing maintenance of the completed works is the responsibility of the Council.

Under the scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Applications are assessed by the OPW having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a cost benefit ratio and having regard to the availability of funding for flood risk management. Full details of this scheme are available on www.gov.ie/opw

In 2020, the OPW approved funding of €75,600 to Cavan County Council for projects at Aghadreenagh Redhills, Ballyhaise Pitch, Ballyhaise Cavan Rd, Drumliffe Ballyhaise Knockateery Cloverhill and Mullinavaranogue. The OPW has recently approved funding of €75,500 to Monaghan County Council for a project at Drumfalra, Ballybay.

The OPW’s annual Arterial Drainage Maintenance Works Programme includes the following river catchments in the Cavan and Monaghan areas: Boyne, Inny, Blackwater and Glyde and Dee.

The OPW does not have Arterial Drainage Schemes on the River Erne system in County Cavan and is not responsible for channel maintenance in the area in accordance with its statutory requirements under the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945. However, parts of the Erne Catchment are a Drainage District for which the local authority is responsible for ongoing maintenance.

Cavan County Council confirmed in May 2019 that the Council would act as lead agency on the management and delivery of the proposed flood relief scheme in Cavan Town and a steering group, comprising of representatives from the Office of Public Works and Cavan County Council, is now in place to progress the Scheme. On 5th March 2021 Cavan County Council, in partnership with the OPW, issued the tender documentation for the procurement of Engineering Consultants to the OPW Framework of Consultants. Tenders are due for return on 6 May 2021.

Once consultants are appointed to progress the Flood Relief Scheme for Cavan, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of this scheme.

While the three proposed schemes in County Monaghan, for Ballybay, Iniskeen and Monaghan town, are not in the first tranche of flood relief projects to be progressed, the OPW and Monaghan County Council will work closely to ensure that they will be commenced as soon as possible within the 10 Year timeframe for the programme of investment.

Departmental Funding

 113. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the funding committed to date for the Interreg and Peace Plus Programmes post-2020; the level of funding to be provided by the Irish and UK Governments and the European Commission, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17929/21]

 114. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the status of the Interreg and Peace Plus Programmes post-Brexit with particular reference to cross-Border projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17930/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.

In 2018, as part of its proposals for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework and Cohesion policy for the 2021-27 period, the European Commission proposed a special new cross-border EU funding programme for the island of Ireland, PEACE PLUS. This is a proposal which demonstrates the importance placed by the Commission, EU Member States, the UK and Ireland on the strengthening of peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the Border counties of Ireland.

  PEACE PLUS will continue and build upon the work of the PEACE and INTERREG programmes by combining these two funding strands into a single programme which covers an eligible area of Northern Ireland and Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo. Provision for the new programme is included in the January 2020 Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, and in the accompanying Political Declaration, as well as in the December 2020 EU-UK Joint Declaration on Participation in Union Programmes and Access to Programme Services.

  Programme development for PEACE PLUS is now well advanced. This process is being led by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), a North South Implementation body under the joint sponsorship of my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. SEUPB is being assisted by a cross-sectoral Programme Development Steering Group, consisting of representatives of both governments as well as of local government, trade union, business, environment, community and voluntary sector, rural and equality sectors.

  On foot of extensive public consultation and engagement with government departments North and South, SEUPB has prepared a draft programme which covers six thematic areas of cross-border activity:

  - Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities;

  - Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation;

  - Empowering and Investing in Our Young People;

  - Healthy and Inclusive Communities;

  - Supporting a Sustainable Future;

  - Building and Embedding Partnership and Collaboration.

  The draft PEACE PLUS programme is now open to further public consultation for a two month period, which will conclude on 12 May 2021. I would encourage all stakeholders to make their views known during this consultation period. Following the public consultation and any necessary revisions arising from it, it is intended to bring the draft programme for approval by both the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, followed by submission to the European Commission for final approval.

  Ireland has consistently advocated for as large and impactful a programme as possible in financial terms, especially in view of the twin challenges posed by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. The final funding quantum for PEACE PLUS will be determined in the context of EU UK negotiations and a Financing Agreement between the EU, UK and Ireland. Funding will be provided by the European Union, the UK Government, the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive. However, the draft programme has been developed on the basis of a budget in the region of €1 billion.

  Questions Nos. 115 to 117, inclusive, answered with Question No. 111.


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