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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 181-200
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Missing Persons
 Header Item An Garda Síochána
 Header Item Enterprise Policy
 Header Item Flexible Work Practices
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Personal Injuries Assessment Board
 Header Item Industrial Development
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Foreign Direct Investment
 Header Item Industrial Development
 Header Item Employment Rights

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1008 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 181-200

Proposed Legislation

 181. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys further to Parliamentary Question No. 4 of 10 September 2020, the progress to date in publishing the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2018; when it will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28805/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton As the Deputy is aware, the General Scheme of the Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill was developed by my Department following a comprehensive review of current law and administrative practice.

The General Scheme was approved by Government in June 2018 and it is available on my Department’s website.

  The Bill is currently with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and a fourth draft was received as recently as the 17 April.

  I wish to assure the Deputy that officials in my Department and that Office are working closely together to finalise drafting with a view to publication of the Bill as soon as possible.

  The purpose of the Bill is to enhance current systems for the assessment and management of convicted sex offenders and to put those systems on a statutory footing.

  While the drafting process is not yet complete, I expect the main provisions to include:

  - Stricter notification requirements, including requiring offenders to notify Gardaí of their address upon release from custody, or any subsequent change of address, within 3 days as opposed to the existing 7 days.

  - Provision to allow for fingerprinting and photographing the offender, where necessary to confirm their identity.

  - Enhanced supervision of high-risk offenders, including, in limited circumstances, the electronic monitoring of offenders subject to post-release supervision orders.

  - The placing on a legislative footing of assessment teams to assess and manage the risk posed by sex offenders.

  - Provisions whereby a court can prohibit a sex offender from working with children.

  - Provision for a statutory basis for the necessary disclosure of information relating to a high-risk offender on the ‘sex offenders register’. The information in relation to an offender which may be disclosed include the name, address and threat posed by the offender. There is a need for balance in these measures and therefore it is intended that the disclosure could be made to the minimum number of people necessary to avert a serious risk to safety.

Missing Persons

 182. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the request by the coroner for Galway for the establishment of a centralised database for unidentified human remains (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28064/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I wish to acknowledge the pain and trauma experienced by families of missing persons in the State.

As the Deputy may be aware, preliminary work was carried out by An Garda Síochána in 2019, to record unidentified remains that may be located with individual coroners across the country.

My officials have been examining ways to update and take forward that work, while fully respecting the independent role of the coroners as set out in the Coroners Act 1962. As a result of this work, I have recently approved the following measures.

My officials will write to each coroner to ask them what cases of unidentified remains they have dealt with since 2019.

Additionally, a new question on unidentified remains will be added to the annual statistical return from coroners, as provided for under Section 55 of the Coroners Act 1962.

The results of the number of cases identified in each coronial district will be shared with An Garda Síochána and in particular their Missing Persons Unit. This will provide an overview of the current situation since 2019 across the country along with an ongoing annual update on any new cases each year to permit An Garda Síochána to follow up with the individual coroners.

Forensic Science Ireland assists in the identification of human remains through the National DNA Database. Forensic Science Ireland and An Garda Síochána have worked in partnership over the past number of years to deliver a DNA testing facility for families of missing persons at the national Missing Persons Day ceremony. This partnership has served to enhance the ceremony from that of a largely commemorative event to one which has contributed to raising awareness of the significant contribution made by DNA testing to the conclusion of a considerable number of missing persons cases over recent years.

I hope that the promotion of the proposed work on recording unidentified remains, and in particular the annual return from coroners, will encourage more family members of missing persons to participate in DNA testing and database matching. To encourage this greater engagement, my officials will develop a targeted communications and outreach campaign, in partnership with An Garda Síochána and Forensic Science Ireland, to build on the success of National Missing Persons Day and encourage families to participate in this process.

An Garda Síochána

 183. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of gardaí in the Mayo division at the end of April 2021; the way this compares to the end of April 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29963/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The resources provided by government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.88 billion in 2020 and of €1.952 billion in 2021. This has enabled sustained, ongoing recruitment.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the general management and administration of the Garda organisation under the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This includes the deployment of members of An Garda Síochána throughout the State. As Minister, I have no role in these independent functions.

My Department publishes statistics on the number of Gardaí deployed in every division on the Department's website on a monthly basis.

As at 30 April 2021 there were 337 Gardaí assigned to the Mayo Division which represents an increase of 11.2% since 2015. These Garda members are supported by 49 Garda staff, which represents an increase of 48% since 2015.

As the Deputy will appreciate, Garda numbers can be affected by a number of factors, including retirements, medical discharges and resignations. There has been a decrease in the number of Gardaí assigned to Mayo Division from 348 Gardaí in April 2020 to 337 in April 2021.

Enterprise Policy

 184. Deputy Seán Canney Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to target regional towns as opposed to major cities in order to expedite balanced national development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30411/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Delivering balanced regional growth is a core objective in the Programme for Government. The National Planning Framework sets out in detail our vision for our rural areas, towns and cities. The revised National Development Plan that the Government is currently developing is a further opportunity to deliver on this vision. 

The Government is committed to the development of a ‘Town Centre First’ policy focused on regeneration of rural towns and villages, and my Department’s Retail Forum developed a Framework for Town Centre Renewal which is a useful tool to assist Town Teams in how to improve footfall and customer experience in their towns. We are implementing a strategic approach to town centre regeneration, with the aim of utilising existing buildings and unused lands for new development and promoting residential occupancy in our rural towns and villages, using the National Planning Framework as our guide.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department published the National Remote Work Strategy in January 2021. The Strategy aims to ensure remote work is a permanent feature in our workplaces in a way that maximises economic, social, and environmental benefits across regions. We are aware that the impacts of remote work can be substantial and can fundamentally change the nature of where, how, when, and why we work. Earlier this week the Government launched 'ConnectedHubs.ie'. This shared remote working platform will offer a booking system for employees, entrepreneurs and enterprises. It will provide people with the opportunity to reserve facilities, including hot desks and meeting rooms, at hubs across Ireland.

Overseen by my Department, nine new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2024 are currently being developed by regional stakeholders which will identify growth opportunities, recognise vulnerabilities, and enable job creation across the regions.  These plans reinforce and build on the core activities of the IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and the wider range of State bodies involved in supporting regional enterprise development. Each Plan is overseen by a Regional Steering Committee chaired by a senior level businessperson. My Departmental colleagues, Minister Robert Troy and Minister Damien English are driving the delivery of the new Plans nationally. The new Regional Enterprise Plans to 2024 are expected to be completed in Quarter 3 this year.

The Government has provided funding to assist regional enterprise development and jobs growth. For example, my Department’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund and Border Fund have allocated over €117 million across 79 enterprise strengthening projects in every region over a series of competitive calls since 2017 through Enterprise Ireland. These Funds are supporting significant collaborative and innovative regional projects that, when complete, will provide a timely impetus to job creation in regional locations.

Looking at employment growth, almost two thirds of new jobs created by Enterprise Ireland client companies in 2020 were in regions outside of Dublin while IDA Ireland created 10,082 new jobs outside of Dublin. IDA Ireland’s strategy 2021-2024 targets half of FDI investments overall as going to regions outside of Dublin.

Flexible Work Practices

 185. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the work he is undertaking on the development and roll-out of the remote working strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26073/21]

 193. 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 the status of the implementation of the National Remote Work Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30170/21]

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. 185 and 193 together.

  My Department published ‘Making Remote Work’, the National Remote Work Strategy on January 15th, 2021.

  The objective of the Strategy is to ensure that remote work is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social and environmental benefits. The report is built on three pillars which are bolstered by underpinning conditions. These pillars are:

  1. Create a Conducive Environment

  2. Develop and Leverage a Remote Work Infrastructure

  3. Build a Remote Work Policy and Guidance Framework

  Under these pillars and the underpinning conditions there are 15 actions to progress remote working into the future. The Strategy outlines the Departments and State Agencies responsible for the delivery of each of the actions. Each of these actions has a deadline of Q1, 3, or 4 of this year.

My Department is leading on the implementation of the Strategy. Lead actors report the progress on their actions to the Interdepartmental Group on Remote Work. This Group has met twice to date this year, with the most recent meeting taking place last week, on May 27th.  At this meeting it was established that actions to date have been met and that progress is underway to achieving the remaining actions by the end of the year. The Group will continue to meet as the year progresses to drive the implementation of the Strategy.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 186. 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. [30045/21]

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 loan guarantee scheme in the history of the State.   The Scheme provides €2 billion in lending, for terms up to five-and-a-half years and offers a range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million at interest rates below market rates for similar type loans. It is available to SMEs and small mid-caps (business with fewer than 500 employees), including primary producers (businesses engaged in the farming and seafood sectors). The Scheme is available until 31 December 2021 following a Government decision in March to extend it in line with the extension of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid.

  In order to provide the public with relevant data on the performance of the scheme, my Department publishes weekly and monthly reports on its website. These reports provide data on loans drawn under a wide variety of themes and are available at enterprise.gov.ie/en/Publications/COVID-19-Credit-Guarantee-Scheme-Performance-Reports.html.

  As at 20 May, 218 businesses in County Tipperary have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €10,926,343.

  The Scheme is currently available through three commercial banks, six non-bank lenders and nineteen credit unions. This long-term policy goal of diversification adds competition in the market and ensures a wide range of loan products are available throughout the regions.

  I would strongly encourage businesses to avail of the low-cost lending facilities provided under the scheme as they look towards reopening.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 187. 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 Tipperary enterprises that that have applied to the small business assistance scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30046/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The total number of Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC) applications for County Tipperary is 137. Of that figure to date 73 have been approved for payment, and 22 are still being assessed. 42 applications have been refused.

Refusals have occurred due to eligibility requirements such as businesses not meeting the turnover criteria, turnover was not down 75% during the eligibility period, incomplete application form, the business was in receipt of CRSS or they were not in a rateable premises.

As you may be aware I recently announced an expanded SBASC phase 2 scheme which will be open for applications in early June with a closing date of 21st July. Phase 2 has been expanded to include businesses working from a non rateable premises and those whose turnover is below €50,000.

Businesses who are working from non rateable premises and meet all other eligibility criteria will receive a €4,000 grant and businesses whose turnover is below €50,000 and meet all other eligibility criteria will receive a €1,000 grant. These businesses have been ineligible for schemes in the past and it is my intention to ensure that these businesses receive some state support during these difficult time. The purpose of these grants are to help meet fixed costs associated with running a business.

Further details of this expanded SBASC scheme will be available shortly on my Department's website and on Local Authority websites who will once again administer the scheme.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 188. 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 number of businesses in County Cork that have availed of the Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30061/21]

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 loan guarantee scheme in the history of the State.   The Scheme provides €2 billion in lending, for terms up to five-and-a-half years and offers a range of lending products between €10,000 and €1 million at interest rates below market rates for similar type loans. It is available to SMEs and small mid-caps (businesses with fewer than 500 employees), including primary producers (businesses engaged in the farming and seafood sectors). The Scheme is available until 31 December 2021 following a Government decision in March to extend it in line with the extension of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework on State Aid.

  In order to provide the public with relevant data on the performance of the scheme, my Department publishes weekly and monthly reports on its website. These reports provide data on loans drawn under a wide variety of themes and are available at enterprise.gov.ie/en/Publications/COVID-19-Credit-Guarantee-Scheme-Performance-Reports.html.

  As at 20 May, 609 businesses in County Cork have availed of the CCGS and have drawn loans with a value of €38,070,988.

  The Scheme is currently available through three commercial banks, six non-bank lenders and nineteen credit unions. This long-term policy goal of diversification adds competition in the market and ensures a wide range of loan products are available throughout the regions.

  I would strongly encourage businesses to avail of the low-cost lending facilities provided under the scheme as they look towards reopening.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

 189. 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 if changes are planned in relation to the operation of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. [30062/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Programme for Government contains a commitment to enhance and reform the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). This commitment is being given effect under Action 19 of the Government’s Action Plan for Insurance Reform.

PIAB offers the most cost-effective and efficient settlement channel for personal injury claims. However, the number of cases being finalised through PIAB has fallen in recent years.

As Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, I have met regularly with PIAB and a range of representative bodies to assess the role of PIAB and develop proposals for the reform of the agency. I have undertaken a public consultation seeking views on the matter from all interested parties. There has been very good engagement with the consultation and we are now concluding the examination of the responses with a view to introducing legislation to enhance and reform PIAB. The overarching objective of the proposed reforms is to bring more cases within PIAB’s ambit and reduce the number of cases that PIAB release to litigation.

We have already seen significant changes in the operations of PIAB during this year which are intended to enhance its role. Following adoption by the Judicial Council, new Personal Injuries Guidelines came into effect in Ireland on the 24th April and these Guidelines apply to all cases assessed by PIAB from that date.

In addition, the Minister for Justice and I, published the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Bill 2021 in April 2021. This Bill will bring Garda compensation claims within the PIAB process. This will benefit both claimants, in terms of quicker resolution of claims with an objective assessment of quantum, and the State as the respondent, in terms of lower legal and administrative costs.

I am confident that through the reform and enhancement of PIAB we will help to reduce the cost of personal injury claims and increase the affordability and availability of insurance.

Industrial Development

 190. 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 the plans of the IDA for the County Cork and south-west region over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30064/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar IDA’s new strategy 2021-2024 ‘Driving Recovery and Sustainable Growth’ has been developed in the context of the Government’s National Economic Plan. This strategy positions IDA to respond to the emerging trends that are accelerating as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The new strategy will be delivered through a focus on five pillars: Growth, Transformation, Regions, Sustainability and Impact.

  Regional development is at the centre of IDA’s new strategy. IDA is committed to the pursuit of more balanced, compact regional development which can deliver complementary efficiency and equity gains, with the overall impact of helping to advance national development. We will target half of all investments (400) from 2021- 2024 to regional locations and maintain the same high level of investment as targeted in IDA’s previous strategy for each region of the country.

There are 211 IDA client companies in the South-West region, employing 46,009 people. The FDI performance in the region has been strong over the past five years with employment among IDA clients increasing by 30%. IDA will target 118 investments   for the South-West region in the period 2021-2024.

  Counties in the South-West also benefit hugely from the direct and indirect employment generated by IDA client companies located in the South West.  The South-West has a significant ecosystem of well-established companies across Technology, Life Sciences, International Financial Services and Engineering & Industrial Technologies.

  A key driver of FDI in the South-West is the city of Cork, the development of which the NPF recognises as critical to enhancing Ireland’s metropolitan profile. MNCs across the region are supported by industry focused third level institutions and internationally renowned research centres including University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), IT Tralee (ITT), the Tyndall Institute and a number of SFI Research Centres. The establishment of Munster Technological University (MTU) on January 1st 2021, through the merger of CIT and ITT, will further strengthen the South West’s value proposition to FDI. The presence of Cork Airport in the South-West is a key asset to the region in attracting and maintaining FDI.

  During the period of the last strategy, IDA delivered an Advanced Building Solution in Tralee, and undertook significant upgrade work on our Business & Technology Parks in Cork, Killarney, Carrigtwohill and Mallow. IDA also invested in strategic infrastructure at Ringaskiddy in Cork.

  IDA will deliver an Advanced Building Solution in Tralee over 2021-2024, while continuing to work closely with the private sector in the South-West to secure the provision of appropriate and cost-effective building and property solutions for client companies. Additional upgrade works, and investment are planned for IDA Parks in the region to ensure a robust value proposition for clients, and IDA plans to acquire additional strategic sites for future development.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 191. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the steps he is taking to address the challenges being faced by business owners in accessing funding from banks and Microfinance Ireland as part of the credit guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1321/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The €2 billion COVID Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) is the largest such scheme in the history of the state. Its purpose is to facilitate additional liquidity to SMEs, primary producers and Small Mid-Caps (i.e. companies with fewer than 500 employees). It has given certainty to the lending market that funding is available and operates in accordance with the European Commission’s Temporary Framework for State Aid. This Framework has facilitated the speedy introduction of the CCGS but it also has eligibility criteria for the loans that must be met. These include the basis of the size of the loan based on turnover or staff wages and the requirement that the business must show potential future viability.

The CCGS was launched on the 7th of September last with AIB, BOI and Ulster Bank being the initial finance providers. All finance providers are required to demonstrate reduced interest rates to the participating business and there is no requirement for collateral or personal guarantees for loans up to €250,000. Finance providers utilise their own credit departments to assess future viability. They have the widest branch networks in the country and are closest to the businesses to determine this.

While there is a normal processing time between applications and drawdown, figures from the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, who operate the CCGS on behalf of the government, show a steady increase in the number of loans and total weekly lending. Furthermore, new lenders have been successful in their application to operate loans under the CCGS, including a range of Credit Unions who are at the final stages of their legal agreements and operational set up.

In relation to the Microfinance Ireland, it operates its own loan book and is not a participant in any credit guarantee scheme. Owners of micro businesses with less than 10 employees can go directly to Microfinance Ireland or access their loans through the 32 Local Enterprise Offices. Currently, Microfinance Ireland are offering a COVID Business Loan, A Brexit Business Loan and their standard loans.

Finally, the CCGS is part of a suite of loans available to Irish businesses which includes the Brexit Loan Scheme and the Future Growth Loan Scheme. More widely, government has provided grants, rebates and employee assistances available to Irish business owners.

Proposed Legislation

 192. 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 the details of the work on the Small Company Administrative Rescue Process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30173/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Robert Troy): Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Government approved the priority drafting of the Companies (Small Company Administrative Rescue Process and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 on 11th May 2021. Drafting is currently underway with a view to enactment in advance of the summer recess. Officials from my Department continue to engage intensively with the Attorney General and Parliamentary Counsel to progress the Bill within this timeframe.

It is recognised that Ireland’s existing rescue framework, examinership, while internationally recognised and successful in its own right, may be beyond the reach of small companies due to the associated costs. The Small Company Administrative Rescue Process (SCARP) seeks to mirror key elements of examinership in an administrative context thereby reducing court oversight resulting in efficiencies and lower comparable costs. It will have limited court involvement where creditors are engaged in the process and positively disposed to a rescue plan.

SCARP is an integral part of the Government’s medium-term stabilisation response to the economic challenges of the pandemic, and in keeping with commitments contained in the Programme for Government. It is a further demonstration of its commitment to do all that it can to help businesses along the road to recovery as we emerge from Covid-19.

  Question No. 193 answered with Question No. 185.

  Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 109.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 195. 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 the supports that have been offered to IDA Ireland biopharmaceutical client companies to support technology transfers, validation, manufacture and supply of generic Covid-19 vaccines in response to the Irish public health crisis. [16821/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Ireland is a major global centre for Biopharmaceutical manufacture and supply.  In 2019 Ireland was ranked the 5th largest exporter of biopharmaceutical medicines globally with exports of €80 billion. There are 85 IDA supported companies in the sector in Ireland employing over 37,000 people.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in Ireland play a key role in the global supply chain of numerous innovative medicines used to treat a wide range of illnesses. The continued necessity and demand for these medicines remains critical to patient care, and sites in Ireland have remained focused on maintaining operations and supply of these vital medicines. The capabilities of each site are specifically developed for the production of those medicines while ensuring regulatory and safety performance. 

The manufacture of medicinal products, including vaccines, is a complex activity that involves multiple production stages and manufacturing processes, specialist expertise, specific technology solutions and associated infrastructure and a well-coordinated global supply chain. The bulk of global manufacturing to date has been in dedicated vaccine production sites. Modification of an existing facility to manufacture a new product such as a vaccine, would require significant time and capital expenditure and a comprehensive regulatory assessment and is therefore not practical to meet the demands of speed and scale that are required to tackle the pandemic.

We have an ongoing commitment to this critical sector and support innovative companies that are developing the new products and processes that will further develop the industry here in Ireland and help us in the fight against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Products Scheme launched in June 2020 allows additional aid to companies that are developing or producing medicinal products and equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. To date, proposals in response to the fight against COVID-19 have included investments in the area of ventilators, PPE, diagnostics test kits and building capacity for testing and scaling of therapeutics. To-date IDA has approved seven proposals with a combined capital expenditure of €2 million and related grant approval of €7.1 million. Grant draw down in 2020 was in the amount of €2 million.

In recent weeks, a global client of IDA announced plans to manufacture a COVID -19 vaccine drug substance at its facility in Dublin. Expansion plans at this site will allow for the extra production that will be part of the global vaccine supply chain network, contributing to the worldwide supply of the vaccine. This represents a vote of confidence in the Irish life-sciences sector.

Brexit Issues

 196. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he remains satisfied that Ireland’s export market continues to be accessible in the immediate aftermath of Brexit; if particular or specific challenges have been identified as potential major obstacles for Irish exporters and importers; if contingency measures have been fully decided upon and are now in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8971/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy will appreciate, Brexit has fundamentally changed the trading relationship between Ireland and the UK and will continue to impact that trading relationship. Since the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement came into force, there has been some short-term disruption arising from the new requirements around customs and SPS checks and controls. Businesses are however gradually adjusting to the new trading realities, finding alternative supply chains and are being encouraged to find new markets for their products.

The most recent CSO statistical data release indicates that the value of goods exports to Great Britain in the first quarter of 2021 was €3,033 million, a decrease of €82 million (-3%) on the first quarter of 2020. However, exports to Great Britain increased by €139 million (+13%) to €1,216 million in March 2021 compared with March 2020. Exports to Great Britain accounted for 8% of total exports. The value of goods imports from Great Britain for January to March 2021 was €2,204 million, a decrease of €2,002 million (-48%) compared with January to March 2020.

It is too early, based on statistics for the first quarter of 2021, to get a real sense of the impact that Brexit will have on longer term trade flows as there are other contributory factors, not least COVID-19 that has also had a chilling economic effect. Analysis of trade flows over a longer period of time would be required to allow for sound conclusions to be drawn.

Since January 2021, Enterprise Ireland has engaged with client companies through surveys and focus groups to understand the impacts for companies on the new trading relationship with the UK. Companies across all sectors identified common challenges such as the potential disruption from Import Checks which are set to begin in October; supplier issues and transport and logistics; and  general competitiveness of businesses because Brexit – related customs procedures and added supply chain costs have increased the costs to businesses. 

Notwithstanding the new business challenges, the UK continues to be a strategic market of importance for Irish companies. A recent survey of Enterprise Ireland clients currently operating in the UK market reported that 89 percent see future opportunities in the UK while 83 percent report that their strategy is to grow exports to the UK.

While Enterprise Ireland clients are continuing to diversify their export markets, the UK market remains the largest export market for Enterprise Ireland clients. In 2019, Enterprise Ireland clients reported €7.9 billion in exports to the UK, representing 31 per cent of total client exports.  Enterprise Ireland remains committed to working with client companies to assist them sustain and grow their business, both in the UK, and through market diversification. This will be delivered through a comprehensive programme of funding, advice and in-market supports to get customs ready, remain competitive in the UK and identify future growth opportunities.

The Government is also committed to ensuring that the most Brexit impacted sectors of the economy will be supported and assisted. The Deputy will be aware that economic analysis carried out in 2018, updated in January 2020, on the economic impacts of Brexit on the Irish economy, identified the Agri-Food sector as the one most likely to be most seriously impacted. In that respect, the €100 million Capital Investment Scheme for the Processing and Marketing of Agricultural Products, managed by Enterprise Ireland, is just one of the ways the Government is helping the Agri-Food sector manage the fallout from Brexit.

The EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve and the proposed significant allocation of funding to Ireland under this fund is strong recognition of the fact that Ireland is one of the most impacted Member States by Brexit. The fund will be used to mitigate the worst impacts of Brexit for the most impacted sectors in the economy.

Foreign Direct Investment

 197. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent to which he remains satisfied that Ireland remains attractive as a location for foreign direct investment; if there has been any fluctuation in the position of Ireland in that regard in recent months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8972/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar COVID-19 has presented challenges to our ongoing efforts to sustain and grow foreign direct investment in Ireland. The introduction of travel restrictions has disrupted the way in which IDA Ireland engages with investors, resulting in fewer site visits and client meetings. The pandemic has impacted investor confidence and has likely caused some investment decisions to be delayed or postponed. Nevertheless, IDA Ireland's results for 2020 demonstrated the ongoing resilience of our FDI base. IDA Ireland secured 246 investments in 2020, 128 of which were outside Dublin. 95 new name companies invested in Ireland for the first time.

The second significant challenge which we have faced is Brexit. IDA Ireland has been working hard with its client base to help mitigate Brexit-related risks that could impact on foreign direct investment in Ireland. The Agency has consistently sought out opportunities to attract further Brexit-related investment to Ireland, resulting in 95 Brexit-related investments with an associated jobs potential of 5,900. Furthermore, IDA Ireland has taken steps to diversify its source markets for foreign direct investment, restructuring its European operations to treat the UK as a separate market. It will also deploy additional resources in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

We recognise that the global competition for FDI is intensifying and that we will have to fight, harder than ever before, for new investment projects. IDA Ireland's new strategy will guide its response to these challenges. The Strategy is built on the five pillars of Regions, Growth, Transformation, Sustainability and Impact, and it has an ambitious set of targets including 800 investments and 50,000 new jobs.

Overseas companies continue to value our FDI strengths. These include our talented and flexible work-force, a track record as a successful home to global businesses, and a hard-won reputation as a pro-enterprise jurisdiction. Our continued commitment to the European Union, the single market and Eurozone, as well as to free trade and multilateralism, are other key selling points that help us convince multinational companies to establish operations and create jobs here.

I am confident that multinationals will continue to locate or expand further in Ireland in the years ahead.

Industrial Development

 198. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on the setting up by the IDA of operations in Israel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30267/21]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar IDA Ireland’s overseas teams and office network are vital to support the agency’s efforts in winning new Foreign Direct Investment across the world. From time-to-time IDA seeks to expand its global network of offices and teams. Many firms are looking to expand into new markets and Ireland is a proven location for global companies to grow and serve their customer base in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

IDA Ireland has decided to tender for a part-time Israel based Business Development Consultant.  This person will represent IDA to support its efforts to win new investment. This is a model used across many territories. The Business Development Consultant will be expected to identify Israeli-headquartered target companies with potential for investing in Ireland, engage with senior decision-makers in these companies and present Ireland’s value proposition as an investment location.

IDA Ireland is represented on the Implementation Group for the National Plan on Business and Human Rights; this is a multi-stakeholder group, comprising government, business and civil society representatives. The Implementation Group has drawn up Guidance on Business and Human Rights for Business Enterprises which was formally launched by my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in April. IDA Ireland has advised my Department that they will be guided by all aspects of this guidance when appointing a business development consultant in any territory.

As an Agency of my Department, I expect IDA Ireland to align with Ireland's well-known position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, which informs our engagement with the State of Israel across a range of bilateral issues, including trade. Ireland distinguishes between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. 

UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on 23 December 2016, calls on all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. This Resolution reflected the position already held by Ireland, the EU and the UN for many years.

Ireland consistently raises human rights issues in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory at the highest international levels, including most recently at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Ireland remains steadfast in its support for a comprehensive two state solution which protects the future of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

Employment Rights

 199. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar when employee redundancy rights will be restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30268/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English Section 12A is the emergency provision of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 which effectively suspends an employee’s entitlement to claim redundancy from their employer following certain periods of lay-off or short time work due to Covid-19. This suspension has recently been extended to 30th September 2021.

This was a difficult decision, and I am aware that many employees are experiencing uncertainty and want their employment position regularised.

However, the public health situation is not yet resolved and restrictions are being eased on a gradual basis. Many businesses will continue to be impacted by restrictions for some period of time as the economy re-opens.

Reinstating the entitlement for employees to claim redundancy before the end of September 2021 would have a serious impact on the potential for a business to recover and push many into insolvency situations, exacerbate employment losses and delay economic recovery.

This further extension to 30th September 2021 will afford businesses some time to recover and provide them with some breathing space to consider their financial position and assess their future staffing requirements as the economy gradually re-opens.

The extension is also important for employees to ensure that they have a continued link to their job and a pathway to return. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme have also been extended from the end of June to support affected employees.

All other redundancy provisions remain unchanged and in force. If an employer is going to make an employee redundant, protections such as notice periods for redundancy and the payment of a redundancy lump-sum to the affected employee still apply and the existing suite of employment rights legislation remains in place. 

  Question No. 200 answered with Question No. 85.


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