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Hogan, Phil

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 Nbr. 3


Mahon Tribunal Report: Statements

What is wrong with that?More Button

The Deputy is spraying stuff around.More Button

The Deputy will be burning dock leaves at the way he is going.More Button

We got nothing.More Button

There is legislation before the House.More Button

It is before the House.More Button

I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the debate in the House this evening on the analysis, findings and recommendations of the fifth and final report of the Mahon tribunal. Howeve...More Button

It is important that the Dáil, as the primary democratically elected forum in the State, provides the necessary time to consider a report of such profound significance for the fundamentals o...More Button

The publication of the report last week has brought to finality a process that began in November 1997, when the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments was established in res...More Button

The final report has been a long time coming — perhaps far longer and at greater cost than anyone would have imagined or expected at the outset. Nevertheless, if there were any doubts as to ...More Button

I refer to some of the main findings of the tribunal. The final report is voluminous, running to more than 3,250 pages, and it will take some time to fully digest its findings and recommendations....More Button

The tribunal meticulously and methodically carried out its work over the course of the last 15 years. As the report states:More Button

Perhaps one of the most serious aspects of the inquiry is the fact that the judges have stated in their report that they came under “sustained and virulent attacks” from senior Ministers of the las...More Button

The report’s findings merit full consideration by all the relevant organs of the State. In that context, following initial consideration of the report over the course of the day of its publi...More Button

In addition to the grave findings of fact, the report also sets out a series of policy recommendations for consideration to help ensure that similar situations do not arise again in the future. Th...More Button

Without pre-empting the analysis my Government colleagues and I will be undertaking, a preliminary examination of the 64 recommendations suggests that some at least are already being addressed thro...More Button

I leave it to my ministerial colleagues to elaborate on their specific areas of responsibility referred to in the tribunal recommendations as part of their contributions to this debate. For my par...More Button

On the matter of political donations, as Deputies will be aware, I am currently leading the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Donations) Bill 2011 through the House, and am pleased to note that a nu...More Button

Building on the relevant commitments in the programme for Government, this Bill goes further than any previous legislation in asserting the right of the people to know how their political system an...More Button

Another issue that has come under close scrutiny in the tribunal report is the ethics framework. My colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, who has previo...More Button

I will examine the tribunal report’s recommendations closely in the context of the existing ethics framework to ensure that we take whatever further steps are necessary to restore and underpi...More Button

Ill-informed commentators have claimed local authority inquiries were stopped by me, a claim repeated by the leader of Fianna Fáil and the leader of Sinn Féin. It is shameful and laz...More Button

The inquiries are continuing in the Department and will be completed within the next few weeks with a view to establishing whether external inquiries are required. Under this Government, the cases...More Button

Deputy Boyd Barrett usually talks at length about innuendo and he challenges people’s names in this House, which I find disgraceful. To make the wild allegation Deputy Boyd Barrett made abou...More Button

The cost of the tribunal over its 15 years to date — some €110 million — and the future costs in dealing with claims for third-party costs have been the subject of considerable and...More Button

That said, substantial third-party costs, covering the period 2003-08, will be ruled upon by the tribunal’s presiding judge in the coming months. Estimates of the potential additional costs ...More Button

I also welcome the decision by this Government to establish a dedicated unit to deal with third-party costs arising from both the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals. The unit will be located in the Stat...More Button

However, it should be remembered that the tribunal’s work has not entirely been without monetary benefit to the State. For example, the Revenue Commissioners have recovered almost €33 m...More Button

In conclusion, for everyone in this House and all others who have an interest in the openness and transparency of our democratic process, the final report of the Mahon tribunal makes findings and r...More Button

Written Answers - Local Authority Housing

Was asked: if a cost benefit analysis has been carried out by him vis-a-vis the following methods of providing social housing, local authority tenancy provision, rental accommodation scheme, rent supplement; ...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the development of a national rent scheme, including guidelines for the treatment of PRD in means testing. More Button

Was asked: the implications for his housing policy or for guidelines that he will issue to local authorities to make allowance for persons who have lost their home following separation and who are unable to g...More Button

Was asked: if funding will be allocated to Galway City Council this year for the improvement and adaptation of the local authority’s social-housing stock for the needs of older persons and persons with ...More Button

Was asked: if he will outline all the affordable housing and shared ownership schemes offered by his Department via local authorities; their current status; the way an individual can apply to be considered fo...More Button

Was asked: the current social housing stock in use in Galway city east.More Button

Was asked: the number of social housing applicants for Galway city east. More Button

Was asked: the predicted number of social housing units to become available in Galway city east in 2012. More Button

Written Answers - Redundancy Payments

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied); the plans he has to address the issue as outlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: when a person (details supplied) in County Wexford will receive redundancy payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a community organisation (details supplied) in County Wexford receiving Government funds, has failed to implement Labour Court recommendation number...More Button

Was asked: if he is concerned by the failure of an organisation (details supplied) to fulfil the terms of a Labour Court recommendation; if the organisation is in receipt of funds from his Department via POBA...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 381, 382, 402 and 416 together.More Button

I am aware of the Labour Court recommendation in the case in question. The position is that neither my Department, nor the former Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, was the em...More Button

In the latter part of 2008, the level of service required by the then Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs was significantly redefined in light of development across a range of prog...More Button

Written Answers - State Agencies

Was asked: if he will outline the cost of the Environmental Protection Agency in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. More Button

The financial allocation to the Environmental Protection Agency for the years specified is set out in the table. Funding to the Agency increased between 2006 and 2008, owing to the assignment of a...More Button

Environmental Protection Agency Funding 2005-2011More Button

Written Answers - Water and Sewerage Schemes

Was asked: the current status of the planned lower harbour main drainage scheme in County Cork; if he will provide a timeline for the completion of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the upgrading of the sewerage scheme in Askeaton, County Limerick. More Button

A comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure has been approved for County Limerick in my Department’s Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available...More Button

Written Answers - Local Authority Charges

Was asked: if he will consider extending the closing date deadline for payment of the household charge given the confusion about the methods of paying the new charges and other matters that have arisen about ...More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. There is a range of options av...More Button

A household charge information leaflet was delivered to households across the countryearlier in the payment period. A final reminder is currently being delivered to households. I have already ann...More Button

Was asked: if he will consider the a suggestion (details supplied) in relation to the household charge. More Button

Was asked: the arrangements in place in respect of the household charge for persons who are acting as executors of wills who are charged with selling a house on behalf of a deceased person; and if any exempti...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 386 and 389 together.More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, set out the legislation underpinning the household charge and the charge on non-principal p...More Button

The specific provisions are contained in section 4(3) of the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and, in relation to the charge on non-principal private residences, in section 4(7) of the ...More Button

The personal representative of such deceased person is, as soon as a grant of representation to the estate of the deceased person issues to him or her, liable to pay to the relevant local authority...More Button

Where the full amount owing is not paid by the personal representative within 3 months of the date of issue of the grant of representation to the estate of the deceased, he or she is liable to pay ...More Button

Was asked: the amount of finance that has been spent on the household charge printed information promised to all households, to inform individuals of procedures, options, costs and so on; and the amount that ...More Button

Was asked: the amount he estimates will be spent by local authorities on advertisements calling on persons to pay the household charge. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 403 together. More Button

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is administering the household charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils. The costs arising, including those in r...More Button

Question No. 389 answered with Question No. 386.More Button

Was asked: if he will address the uncertainty amongst many members of the public, by provid[865]ing assurances that he will never sell unpaid household charges to third party colle...More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislation underpinning the household charge. Under the Act, it is a func...More Button

Was asked: the arrangements that will be put in place so persons can pay the household charge through the Post Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the household charge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if he has actively engaged with An Post and the IPU with regards the possibility of the Post Office offering services previously provided by the local authority such as motor tax renewals, househol...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 391, 393 and 407 together.More Button

An Post is assisting in broadening the number of local outlets where the household charge declaration form is available. The declaration form is available outside the counter in the network of 1,1...More Button

A bureau is in place in the LGMA to administer the charge on a shared service/agency basis for all local authorities. In addition, all county/city councils have been requested to have arrangements ...More Button

Was asked: the reason the household charge bureau will not accept direct debits mandates which were received and stamped by local authorities before the deadline of 1 March for payment of the household charge...More Button

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is administering the household charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils. More Button

Instalment payment facilities were available by direct debit and persons opting to pay in this way had to register their details with the LGMA before 1 March, 2012. This deadline was necessary in ...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide clarification on a matter (details supplied) relating to the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) is liable to pay the household charge on an auxiliary building within a household property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 398 and 409 together. More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.More Button

The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.More Button

Section 2 of the Act provides that residential property means a building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling, whether or not the o...More Button

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has been refused a waiver under the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the legislation, an owne...More Button

The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge.More Button

The exemptions from payment of the household charge are—More Button

The waivers which apply concern—More Button

In particular, section 4(1)(b) provides that a person who, on the liability date, is the owner of a residential property is not, in respect of that residential property, liable to pay the h...More Button

In the circumstances set out in section 4(1)(b), a person is entitled to an exemption from payment of the household charge and the question of an application for a waiver does not arise.More Button

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) who has a non-principal residence for which they pay €200 for public services, is liable to pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matt...More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the legislation, an owner...More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge.More Button

The exemptions from payment of the household charge are—More Button

The waivers which apply concern—More Button

I have no proposals to provide for an exemption in respect of an owner of a residential property who also has a liability to pay the €200 non-principal private residence charge.More Button

Question No. 409 answered with Question No. 398.More Button

Was asked: the types of properties that are exempt from the household charge under residential properties owned by a Minister of the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislation underpinning the household charge. More Button

The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.More Button

Section 2(2) of the Act provides that certain buildings are not residential property for the purposes of the legislation. Section 2(2)(b), in particular, provides that a building vested in ...More Button

Residential properties vested in a Minister of the Government and used/let in the performance of their functions are not residential property for the purposes of the legislation as making such prop...More Button

However, residential property held in a personal capacity by a Minister of the Government would not be exempted under this provision.More Button

Was asked: the reason a housing estate (details supplied) has not been included on the list of exempted ghost estates that are not required to pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the ...More Button

Was asked: if he will consider the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if a business premises which is partly residential in circumstances where commercial rates are being paid on the entire premises is also liable for payment of the household charge. More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. The household charge is on a se...More Button

Under the legislation, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge by 31 March 2012, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to cl...More Button

Section 2 of the Act sets out the meaning of “residential property” for the purposes of the Act. In particular, section 2(2)(d) of the Act provides that a building that is wholly used as a ...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a schedule on a matter (details supplied). More Button

Was asked: the amount of the 1.8 million households liable to register for the household tax that have done so. More Button

Was asked: the number of persons who have registered for the household tax that were liable to pay the tax; and the number that were exempt. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 427 and 428 together. More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 ...More Button

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is administering the household charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils. I understand, from data provided by t...More Button

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge.More Button

The exemptions from payment of the household charge are residential properties that are part of the trading stock of a business and have not been sold or been the source of any income since constru...More Button

The waivers which apply concern owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement, and owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates.More Button

Was asked: if he will confirm or deny the recent media reports which state that the household charge will be taken directly from people’s pay packets or welfare payments; if so, when is he proposing to ...More Button

I have no proposals to collect the household charge from homeowners by deduction from earnings. The Question may be referring to the proposals that my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equali...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: if he will provide information as to the total cost of employing retained fire-fighters in 2011; the total costs involved in providing training, uniforms and other associated costs to retained fire...More Button

Outside of the main cities which have full-time fire services, fire services are provided by a retained staffing system. Retained firefighters are employees of fire authorities, and are organised t...More Button

Revised Local Authority Scales Operative from 1st January 2010More Button

Part-Time Fire Service Personnel — Inclusive Annual AllowanceMore Button

Question No. 393 answered with Question No. 391.More Button

Written Answers - Election Management System

Was asked: the proposals he has with regard to reducing the voting age; when he proposes to introduce any changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I have no proposals at present to reduce the voting age. However in line with the Programme for Government commitment the Government proposes to establish a Constitutional Convention and one of the...More Button

I will consider proposals for change to electoral law in the light of any recommendation for change that might arise from this process.More Button

Was asked: the proposals, if any, and the elections in which immigrants would be allowed to vote in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Subject to age and residency requirements, a person’s citizenship determines the polls at which he or she is entitled to vote, as follows:More Button

While electoral law is subject to ongoing review I have no proposals at present to extend the current arrangements for voting by non-citizens.More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff

Was asked: if he will provide a list of staff in his Department who serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any...More Button

Current details in relation to staff in my Department serving as directors of State boards that are companies are as follows: More Button

Civil servants do not receive payment (other than appropriate travel and subsistence expenses) or other benefit in kind when carrying out work that is part of their duties, including serving as a d...More Button

Civil servants are entitled to be indemnified for undertaking their duties, including civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties. The indemnification would cover any...More Button

Written Answers - Ministerial Expenses

Was asked: the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The expenses paid to me and the Ministers of State in my Department during the period in question are set out in the Table below. The expenses paid cover domestic and foreign travel and subsistence...More Button

Question No. 402 answered with Question No. 381.More Button

Question No. 403 answered with Question No. 388.More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: when the heads of the Noise Nuisance Bill are expected to be approved; if the Bill will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to take further steps to address noise pollution, inter alia, through the introduction of fixed payment notices (also known as on-the-spot ...More Button

Written Answers - EU Directives

Was asked: if he will confirm if Dublin Fire Brigade or Dublin City Council is in infringement of an EU Directive mandating that the authority must have five full-time fire prevention officers, whose role it ...More Button

The Fire Services Act 1981 and 2003 is the primary legislation governing fire safety in Ireland, and I am not aware of any specific EU Directive in that regard. Section 18(2) of the Act places resp...More Button

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2011, each County and City Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements, including recruitment and day to day operational measur...More Button

As part of their work, fire prevention staff process applications for Fire Safety Certificates made under Building Control Regulations, deriving from the Building Control Act 1990.More Button

Written Answers - Social and Affordable Housing

Was asked: if he will explain the rationale, between a local authority housing applicant, (details supplied) living on a rent subsidy in the private sector, being allocated a housing association unit (details...More Button

Was asked: if it is current policy to refuse a social housing assessment to a young couple who are currently residing with a parent and other family members even though there is overcrowding as they were not ...More Button

Written Answers - Architectural Qualifications

Was asked: if he will consider an amendment to the Building Control Act 2007 to allow the inclusion of a Grandfather clause in the legislation to facilitate architects who are not members of the RIAI; and if ...More Button

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 354, 356, 363 and 390 of 21 March 2012 which sets out the position on this matter. I have no plans to amend the Building Control Act 2007 along the lines sug...More Button

Written Answers - Homeless Strategy

Was asked: the actions he is undertaking to tackle homelessness here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the number of persons he estimates are homeless here; if he will provide a breakdown by city and town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the number of local authorities that currently have a full-time homeless officer; the number that had such a position in 2007; the number of such positions that are vacant; if he is satisfied that ...More Button

Was asked: the number of persons in his Department that work in the area of addressing homelessness here; the projects they are working on in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Written Answers - Planning Issues

Was asked: when his investigation into allegations of planning irregularities in Carlow County Council will be completed and its findings made public. More Button

Written Answers - Fire Services

Was asked: when it is anticipated that the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management will be in a position to issue the Keeping Communities Safe, which some local authorities require to complete ...More Button

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in my Department has developed a draft national policy for an integrated approach to efficient fire safety in Ireland. This is titled ...More Button

Following this stakeholder consultation, it is intended that the finalised policy document will be completed by the end of June 2012, and “Keeping Communities Safe” will then be circulated to al...More Button

Question No. 430 answered with Question No. 411.More Button

Written Answers - Leader Programmes

Was asked: the amount of money owed to project promoters by Meitheal Forbatha na Gaeltacht, broken down by Gaeltacht area; the number of promoters in each Gaeltacht area that are owed money; and if he will ma...More Button

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG), the group contracted by my Department to deliver Axes 3 and 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in Gaeltacht Areas, went into liquidation on ...More Button

The process of identifying those promoters whose projects are at an advanced stage of development and are most likely to be ready to make a claim for payment is underway and an interim system, in c...More Button

It will not be possible to provide the information sought regarding the number of promoter owed money and the amounts owed until such time as the status of each project and claims has been establis...More Button

Written Answers - Water Services

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Water Services Bill. More Button

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 433 and 436 together.More Button

The Building Regulations in general provide for the safety, health and well-being of persons in and around buildings. The regulations are reviewed on an ongoing basis and any proposed amendments a...More Button

A number of the concerns expressed in the correspondence supplied extend beyond the scope of the Building Regulations and into matters such as the regulation of trade, consumer protection and envir...More Button

Having specific regard to the issues raised in relation to the recent Water Services Act, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling against Ireland in October 2009 regarding domestic waste wate...More Button

In the context of proposals to reform the building control system, in July 2011, I announced a number of measures to be advanced by my Department and local authorities with a view to improving comp...More Button

In broad terms the measures will involve: the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance by builders and the designers of buildings confirming that the statutory requirements of the Build...More Button

It is my view that the introduction of the measures proposed will have the capacity to improve the quality of buildings and will lead to a further strengthening of the building control system. The...More Button

Written Answers - Dog Licences

Was asked: the average number of dog licences issued each year; and the value of income received from this source. More Button

This information is available on my Department’s website at:More Button

www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/DogControl.More Button

The statistics for 2011 are currently being compiled and will be published shortly.More Button

Written Answers - Harbours and Piers

Was asked: if he will issue a directive to all local authorities in the country asking them to ensure that no new proposed harbour by-laws would take away from the traditional use of our piers and harbours, s...More Button

The Harbours Act 1996 provides for the making of harbour bye-laws, and section 89(3)(a) provides that local authorities may make bye-laws in respect of harbours under their control or manage...More Button

I have no function in the matter.More Button

Question No. 436 answered with Question No. 433.More Button

Written Answers - National Lottery Funding

Was asked: if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is all...More Button

Responsibility for the allocation of National Lottery funding to Departmental expenditure programmes generally is a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.More Button

Appendix 1 to the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2012, published by that Department in February 2012, gives information on expenditure programmes which are part funded by the National Lotter...More Button

The annual Appropriation Account for the Vote and the Department’s website (http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/) contain further detail on the expendi...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Equipment

Was asked: the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a stateme...More Button

My Department currently has 309 laptops and plans to upgrade 75 laptops this year. This number includes the laptops provided under a shared services agreement to the Heritage Division of the Depar...More Button