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Howlin, Brendan

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)

I thank colleagues on all sides of the House for the informed and thoughtful range of contributions on a Bill that is of particular interest to Members of this House. As many speakers observed, th...More Button

There are many legitimate inquiries the Oireachtas may conduct. The last speaker's contribution was interesting. We should not focus on the lack of powers, rather let us exercise the many power...More Button

The Bill places considerable responsibility on the Houses, a point missed by some Deputies. This is not confined to the Government. It empowers the Houses to take full command of these matters....More Button

I wish to comment on some of the observations made by Deputies during the course of the debate yesterday and today. We will have careful regard to everything that was said, particularly between ...More Button

Deputy Sean Fleming questioned the purpose of the Bill and wondered whether there was anything new in the legislation or if such matters could be regulated better or more readily under Standing O...More Button

Deputy Sean Fleming also raised some issues about periodic or interim reports to ensure work done would not be wasted, a point also raised by Deputy Catherine Murphy. The Bill provides for this ...More Button

Deputy Sean Fleming referred to the exceptions provided for in section 68. These largely replicate, as I indicated they would, the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Pri...More Button

Deputy Sean Fleming also mentioned former Members of the House, an issue on which other Members also touched. If this type of inquiry is to be undertaken in any instance, it will depend on the p...More Button

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh and others said this legislation was being rushed. I am sure Deputies on all sides will appreciate the urgency attached to having this legislation enacted. I appreciate...More Button

I fully agree with Deputy Finian McGrath's comments on the damage done to politics by the actions of a minority of Members and former Members. I hope this legislation will assist in strengthenin...More Button

Deputy Shane Ross wondered whether, as parliamentarians, we were the appropriate persons to conduct inquiries. Yes, we are. That is the nature of parliament everywhere. I do not know of any pa...More Button

Several Deputies mentioned the appropriate balance on committees. Section 16(2) provides that a committee of the House or the Houses may issue guidelines on the procedures for inquiries. Such g...More Button

Deputy Catherine Murphy and others mentioned the Callely case before the Supreme Court. It would not be appropriate to delay the Bill to await that judgment, but we will, of course, have regard ...More Button

Deputy Finian McGrath also talked about the importance of fair procedures. That is an extremely important issue. We have paid huge attention to ensuring fair procedures. More Button

Deputy John McGuinness mentioned how effective the DIRT inquiry had been. He is right.More Button

That inquiry was not resisted, witnesses came voluntarily, papers were produced and the scoping exercise had already been done by the Comptroller and Auditor General. It would be somewhat more fra...More Button

Deputy Nolan believed some other speakers were misleading regarding the scope of the Bill. I welcome the clarity he brought on this matter to the debate. I echo his statements that this Bill fu...More Button

Deputy Dowds regretted the Oireachtas inquiries referendum was not passed. We must always have respect of the views of the people expressed but it would have been an advance for the Oireachtas i...More Button

Deputy Dowds also spoke about the abolition of the Seanad, a point touched upon by several Deputies. Abolition of the Seanad is a position I came to after careful consideration in advance of the...More Button

Deputy Pringle said the Bill contains no specific provision to permit a committee to appoint an investigator. In fact, there is nothing in the Bill that would prevent that. The procedure we had...More Button

I did not realise there was a time limit on reply.More Button

So, there is no limit.More Button

That is what I thought.More Button

Deputy Lawlor talked about the costs associated with the Moriarty and Mahon tribunals and posited the view, one with which few would disagree, that they were very large and excessive. That is on...More Button

Deputy Harris commented on several issues which I hope we will be able to tease out on Committee Stage in some detail.More Button

Deputy Healy-Rae asked about the right of the people to get answers to important questions. That is what this legislation is about. Quite often what passes for debate or inquiry in the Dáil is ...More Button

My constituency colleague, Deputy Twomey, made a thoughtful contribution to the Bill, for which I thank him. He raised the issue of the advice available to committees and the appropriate role of...More Button

Deputy Kevin Humphreys raised the need for committees to be properly resourced, a matter I touched upon earlier.More Button

Deputy Kyne spoke about the public demand to hold people to account. All Deputies interact every day with people. We know people have endured much in the past four years, by and large with a de...More Button

We have a separation of powers and a robust constitutional protection of individual citizens’ rights. That is all well and good until someone is on the wrong side of that and one wants to ensure...More Button

Deputy Dara Murphy said the House must stand confidently to exercise its authority and powers in the absence of a Seanad, if the people decide to abolish it. That is a point I touched upon earli...More Button

Deputy McGuinness raised several points which we will deal with on Committee Stage. I thank him for his thoughtful contributionMore Button

Deputy Farrell asked if an inquiry will be limited only to former Ministers and about the nature of such an inquiry. The Government accepted my recommendation that it would be wrong for the Exec...More Button

When this legislation is enacted, there will be a responsibility on all parties and Members to reflect on this new measure because it will require new Standing Orders and rules of the House to be d...More Button

I reiterate that parliamentary inquiries under this legislation can be cost effective, efficient and resilient against legal challenges provided they are focused on the terms of reference and com...More Button

I thank all Members for a constructive, comprehensive and overarching debate. I look forward to debating these matters in a few weeks on Committee Stage and putting this framework in place in or...More Button

Houses of the Oireachtas Inquiries (Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Referral to Select Committee

I move:More Button

  Sitting suspended at 2.55 p.m. and resumed at 3.42 p.m.More Button

Croke Park Agreement Issues

Was asked: the changes he is considering to his position on public sector pay and conditions as outlined in the Croke Park II draft agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if his Department officials have completed their preparation on legislative measures to reduce the public sector pay and pensions bill; and when he intends to publish this legislation.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.More Button

This afternoon, I published the proposed Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 and the Bill is scheduled to come before the Oireachtas on Tuesday. The primary purpose of ...More Button

Amended proposals for collective agreements were brokered by the Labour Relations Commission in discussions between the parties on terms and conditions of public servants, which concluded on Mond...More Button

The Government recognises the savings sought from the public service pay and pensions bill are extremely difficult and challenging for all public servants. The Government is conscious of the sig...More Button

A number of questions were asked. The first is the difference between the Haddington Road agreement and the Croke Park II agreement. I do not know if the Deputy has had a chance to read the Haddi...More Button

The substantive change is that a number of unions, which did not engage in the first round of discussions, did engage and tabled suggestions. I made it clear the objective for us was to maintain...More Button

With regard to retired public servants, they were not directly represented at pay talks because that is not normally done. Officials from my Department will meet the association this week. It w...More Button

The final question was what the point was. I hope we will have an agreement but I cannot assume that we will. A balloting and validation process is required. Some unions will do it through the...More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the impact of the proposed agreement on Croke Park 2 on medium term expenditure targets on public spending up until Budget 2017.More Button

The economic forecasts underpinning Budget 2013 were consistent with the expenditure consolidation set out on Budget day and included provisions for savings through a reduction in the public servic...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he expects public expenditure and reform targets to be met in the current and subsequent years throughout the public sector with particular reference to the review of the Croke ...More Button

The Government continues to make good progress on achieving all of our deficit targets and priorities, as articulated in the Government Programme. We are bringing public expenditure back onto a sus...More Button

Croke Park Agreement Issues (Continued)

There were a number of questions. As I said, a number of unions engaged in full measure in the Labour Relations Commission after the ballot. That was their choice. I could not force anybody to e...More Button

On the question of the status of people who vote against it, those unions that engage and accept the Labour Relations Commission proposals will have those proposals implemented. That will be the...More Button

The costing of what?More Button

I said I will give the detail of the measures next week. The Deputy is asking me to counterpoint the Haddington Road agreement to the other deal.More Button

I did not. I will clarify that. I am sorry if I misled the Deputy.More Button

Let me be very clear. I answered the questions and I do not wish to have any confusion about a matter of this importance, nor do I want any excitement to lead to such confusion. I was asked what ...More Button

With regard to the engagement with pensioners, the report last week showed that pensioners are the single group that has been least impacted to date. That is a good thing. However, it is reason...More Button

There is a reduction in the numbers and that was set out in the programme for Government.More Button

We are doing things differently and providing services differently. We are providing shared services. In human resources management, for example, we are moving from a variety of centres of provis...More Button

Sale of State Assets

Was asked: his Department's intended schedule for the sale of State-owned assets. More Button

Was asked: if he will list the State companies that are being currently considered for sale; if this list has been altered since it was originally drawn up; if he will provide a timetable for completion of th...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together.

  The House will be aware from my announcement in February of last year of the overall shape and scale of the State asset dispo...More Button

Was asked: if he will outline the full extent of the anticipated disposal of any State assets in the context of public expenditure reform and the targets set in the context of the Troika agreement by his pred...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a progress report on the consideration of State asset disposals such as Coillte and other State assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 19 together.

  The House will be aware from my announcement in February of last year of the overall shape and scale of the State asset dis...More Button

Was asked: the degree to which the disposal of State assets has been examined to date with particular reference to the utilisation of any proceeds for job creation purposes; and if he will make a statement on...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, I agreed with the Troika in May 2012 that all of the proceeds from asset disposals will be available, in the short term, to be used in one shape or another to support j...More Button

Plans for the first round of disposal transactions are currently progressing, and I would expect to have the first proceeds available later this year to support the project preparation facility f...More Button

Was asked: if he will indicate whether it is expected to meet specific targets in respect of disposal if State assets under each heading; the extent to which these issues have been examined in detail; and if ...More Button

As I have previously informed the House, none of the potential receipts from the State assets disposal programme are to be used as a means of achieving budgetary targets. Instead, it has been agre...More Button

In so far as the Deputy’s question may refer to targets set for receipts from individual assets in the disposal programme, comprehensive reports have been prepared for Ministers which include ind...More Button

Sale of State Assets (Continued)

I understand the Deputy's views on these matters. What was considered was the sale of harvesting rights of trees that were growing commercially. The announcements were made in 2011 and people tal...More Button

There were four separate questions. With regard to the cost of consultants, the process is obviously ongoing but I will give the Deputy a full costing when the matter has concluded and we have bil...More Button

Ryanair constitutes a complication but the primary issue is one of ensuring competition. I stated no decision will be made that is contrary to good transport policy. This means building on our ...More Button

About an hour after the Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, said what Deputy Fleming quoted, I was asked about Coillte at a press conference after the troik...More Button

With regard to the ESB, there will be no sale of any power-generating capacity in the Republic or the island of Ireland.More Button

I am confirming nothing because the Government has not made a decision on this matter yet. I have already indicated that to the House. I will revert to the House as soon as the Government has mad...More Button

The Deputy asked whether my approach has changed. I have a pragmatic approach to solving the economic problems of this country and to determining what we can do to generate jobs. The first task...More Button

With regard to Coillte, one must consider whether we will get the right price; the value; the costs that might arise; the impact on jobs, including those of the suppliers who depend on Coillte cu...More Button

That was never to be the case.More Button

It is hard to please the Deputy. He is not satisfied if we are selling and if we are not selling. He might make up his mind which side of the fence is actually on.More Button

That is not pragmatic. Let me be very clear: I want to maximise the amount of money we will get for job creation. I am very confident that we will have a very significant sum available from the S...More Button

With regard to the cost of consultants, we have tendered and I will give the Deputy full details when the process is complete.More Button

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Was asked: his views on the report by the Nevin Economic Research Institute which claims that a cut of €1 billion in the public sector payroll will result in a saving of only €250 million euro to the Excheque...More Button

Consolidation measures amounting to around €28 billion, or over 17% of estimated 2013 GDP, have been implemented since the crisis began. This represents about 85% of the total consolidation requir...More Button

Was asked: his plans to implement a more streamlined process of negotiating pay and conditions for public sector employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The public service currently employs some 290,000 employees across individual Sectors, Departments and Agencies each with a diversity of terms and conditions of employment, skills, professional bac...More Button

However, as they reflect the diversity of the workforce I am satisfied with the consultative and representative structure which applies in each sector and deals with day to day matters concerning...More Button

Public Sector Staff Remuneration (Continued)

The policy response requires a continuous, ambitious programme of fiscal consolidation, accompanied by structural reforms, to improve the fiscal position of the State, allied with measures necessar...More Button

To meet Ireland’s commitment to a deficit of less than 3% by 2015, the medium term fiscal statement published in November 2012 indicated that, in addition to the overall consolidation of €3.5 bil...More Button

Otherwise the existing significant burden of adjustment falling on services and social transfers, rather than pay, would be untenable. The report referred to by the Deputy focuses on only one el...More Button

Model simulations conducted using the ESRI’s HERMES model suggest that a €1 billion reduction in the public service pay bill would reduce the level of economic activity by some 0.25 to 0.5 of a p...More Button

I listened to the analysis and rhetoric, but the truth is a very simple matter.More Button

Does the Deputy want to hear an answer or does he want to keep talking? He does not want to hear the answer because he has made his mind up. Does he want to hear a different view?More Button

We came into government and were faced with an economic meltdown. We could not pay beyond five months for services - that is how much money was in the kitty - unless we got an external funder to...More Button

Of course there are implications for taking money out of the economy. That is why we have done things in such a measured way. We first extended the consolidation period to get to 3% by a year, ...More Button

Let me be clear. The only pay cuts that are provided for in the FEMPI legislation which was published today are for those earning over €65,000. I do not know where the Deputy stands on high pay a...More Button

On the restoration of pay cuts, I have deliberately structured the Bill I published today as a Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill. By definition, it is anchored in the financ...More Button

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

Was asked: his views on the way that private sector investment including the European Investment Bank can be best used to complement public expenditure to maximise economic growth; and if he will make a state...More Button

Public infrastructure is funded primarily by two sources of funding at the moment, namely, Exchequer financing, the vast bulk of funding, and PPP sourced funding. The PPP mechanism allows the Stat...More Button

Last July, the Government announced its plans for an additional €2.25 billion investment in public infrastructure projects in Ireland over and above our existing Exchequer funded capital investme...More Button

The second element is a package of €850 million coming from the proceeds of the sale of State assets and from the new licensing arrangements for the national lottery, to be used as a project prep...More Button

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme (Continued)

The European Investment Bank is a strong and valuable support and partner in our PPP programme. In the past it has provided funding for a number of PPP projects, especially under the major motorwa...More Button

The Deputy's questions on the European Investment Bank are more appropriate to my colleague, the Minister for Finance. However, I will answer them in so far as I can. I do not know the interest r...More Button

Deputy Sean Fleming asked about primary care centres. I should have mentioned that bundles of such centres will be included in the allocation of funding from the European Investment Bank. It is i...More Button

The Council of Europe Development Bank, on the other hand, prefers justice projects. It is funding the project at Cork Prison, for instance, and the renovation of a number of Garda stations. It i...More Button

e-Government and ICT

Was asked: the role envisaged for the Public Service Chief Information Officer Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department established the Public Service Chief Information Officer Council in November 2011. The council is a representative forum for senior managers with responsibility for information and c...More Button

I do not have the terms and conditions of the appointment to hand, but I will have no difficulty in conveying them to the Deputy. Like most of the appointments I have made in my Department, includ...More Button

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Was asked: if he will lift the public sector recruitment embargo which is resulting in important public facilities having to close down as vacancies from retirements remain unfilled.More Button

The Government has set out an ambitious public service reform plan that aims to transform the quality and cost effectiveness of public services in Ireland. As part of that plan, we are undertaking...More Button

The Government is, sensibly, taking a measured and prudent approach in order to mitigate the potential disadvantages of reduced staffing levels.More Button

Public Sector Staff Recruitment (Continued)

To this end, the numbers reduction policy takes account of priority areas, by allowing for replacement of key staff especially in the education sector and in key areas of health; gives sectoral and...More Button

Reform of the public service is necessary both because we need to reduce costs given our serious fiscal position, and because the quality of public services for the citizen needs to be continuall...More Button

These reform projects will allow the public service to function more efficiently and more cost effectively over the medium term. Crucially, they are facilitating the delivery of services while m...More Button

I cannot answer a particular question like that because I cannot micro-manage the 300,000 employees across the State agencies, the local government sector and each Department. There is an employme...More Button

I regard the library service as a flagship for the State. When I was a member of Wexford County Council that was the only committee of which I wanted to be a member because I think libraries are...More Button

I am at two removes from this, first because it concerns the local authority and second because that is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The...More Button

Lobbying Regulation

Was asked: his plans for regulation of lobbying; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I recently secured Government approval for the drafting, by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, of the Lobbying Regulation Bill. The general scheme of the Bill has been published on my Depart...More Button

The main aim of the proposed regulatory scheme is to strengthen public confidence in politics and in the business of government, as well as to increase the accountability of decision-makers by su...More Button

The proposed Bill provides for a statutory web-based register of lobbying activity. The key features of the proposed regulatory system include the following: communication with designated public...More Button

Lobbying activity forms an important element of the democratic process. It contributes to greater openness and transparency on public policy formulation and provides valuable input to the decisi...More Button

I will commence the legislation as soon as I can but I do not want to pre-empt the legislative process. I hope to bring it to Government very shortly and I will publish it immediately thereafter b...More Button

There are clear, published protocols about the handling of the sale of State assets. I have made it clear that in respect of any information from a bidder or potential bidder my immediate staff ...More Button

What was the Deputy's last point? I have written "lobbying".More Button

Lobbying Regulation (Continued)

Everyone is entitled to lobby. The issue about the lobbyist register is that everyone is entitled to know who is lobbying. It is also important lobbying is done in an open and transparent way.More Button

I will have to think about putting the IFSC in the lobbying legislation. I will come back to Deputy Stanley on the matter.

  On the cooling-off period, people are entitled to ma...More Button

Should he be debarred? Maybe I am asking the wrong person that question. Let me make it easier - should the Minister for Health be allowed to be a doctor again? The embargo on lobbying will not ...More Button

Croke Park Agreement Implementation

Was asked: the position regarding the negotiations between the Labour Relations Commission and the public service unions that have taken place since the rejection of the Croke Park II proposals.More Button

The Government is committed to finding the necessary pay bill savings of €300 million for 2013 and €1 billion by end 2015. We have always maintained that the preferred option was to deliver the ne...More Button

As the Deputy will now be aware, on foot of the rejection by the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, of the Labour Relations Commission, LRC, proposals negotiat...More Button

We have always indicated we were prepared to show the necessary flexibility around how savings could be achieved. That flexibility was availed of by some unions during the first set of discussio...More Button

Mr. Mulvey and his team have been engaged in intensive discussions with the parties over recent weeks and he has kept me fully informed of developments. Those discussions concluded on Monday las...More Button

The Government is pleased with the outcome of the LRC process. I thank all those involved in the talks, particularly the LRC which facilitated the discussions. It provides us with an opportunit...More Button

As I have stated, if these proposals are accepted, it will be possible to achieve the required savings and achieve major increases in public service productivity to secure the necessary reduction...More Button

Also today, I published legislation to give effect to the pay reduction for those earning over €65,000, the parallel reduction in public service pensions and other contingent measures to enable t...More Button

The process of legislation is a matter for the House, not for me.

  Deputy Higgins is in a poor position to demand people accept a democratic decision since there are various cha...More Button

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.More Button

  The Dáil adjourned at 5.50 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 28 May 2013.More Button

Public Procurement Contracts Social Clauses

Was asked: the consideration he has given to the inclusion of a social clause in capital public procurement projects to the value of €1 million euro or more.More Button

The matter of social clauses in public contracts is something that I have been examining closely recently. More Button

Social clauses can be used in public procurement in cases where they are targeted at factoring into the procurement process consideration of social issues such as employment opportunities, equal ...More Button

The European Commission issued guidance in 2010 that identified a range of social considerations that could be relevant for procurement including promoting employment opportunities for young unem...More Button

Challenges arise from the need to ensure that: value for money is not adversely affected; additional costs are not placed on domestic suppliers relative to other potential suppliers; and the targ...More Button

The Deputy may be aware that proposals for a revised set of EU Directives governing public procurement are being considered at present. The inclusion of social considerations in public procureme...More Button

The Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC) has recently approved a pilot initiative to be included in a series of 3 bundles under the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) De...More Button

Flood Relief Schemes Funding

Was asked: the number of flood alleviation projects that will be carried out by the Office of Public Works in 2013; the funding to be allocated to these projects; the way this compares to previous years; and ...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a special fund to address and alleviate the flooding that is occurring in a housing estate (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: further to previous Parliamentary Questions in respect of homes that have been and are at risk of flooding from the Cullavaw river in Rathmore, County Kerry, if he will now make the necessary fundi...More Button

Public Sector Pensions

Was asked: his plans to consolidate the 156 defined benefit schemes listed for public sector employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the public service pension schemes listed in the Occupational Pension Schemes (Funding Standard) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 which were signed by the M...More Button

Consolidation of particular public service pension schemes has taken place from time to time in the past, and individual instances of such consolidation may occur in the future. The consolidatio...More Button

Notwithstanding consolidation events which may arise in this way, and subject to the very important exception case of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme, I have no plans for widespread cons...More Button

An effective consolidation of public service pension schemes will in any event be achieved over time by way of the Single Public Service Pension Scheme, which I launched on 1 January 2013. The Si...More Button

Banking Inquiry

Was asked: if he will outline the aim of the proposed bill to allow for a banking enquiry; the resources that will be made available to the committee selected to carry out the proceedings; the timeframe that ...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government, at its meeting on 14th May 2013, approved the publication of the text of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013. ...More Button

The Bill envisages a central role for the Oireachtas in both initiating and conducting a parliamentary inquiry. Under the Bill, responsibility is assigned exclusively to the Houses of the Oireac...More Button

It is a matter for the Oireachtas to determine the resources that will be made available to any committee conducting an inquiry. The Bill obliges a committee, prior to conducting an inquiry, to ...More Button

In advance of a decision by the Oireachtas to conduct a banking inquiry and agreement on the type of inquiry and its terms of reference, it is not possible to make any assessment on the cost or d...More Button

It was firmly established in the Supreme Court judgment in the Abbeylara case that Oireachtas Inquiries do not, in general, have the power to make findings of fact adverse to the good name of any...More Button

The operation of an inquiry will not impede any judicial proceedings. Section 12(2) of the Bill provides that, if rules and standing orders so provide, a factor that may be considered by the Hou...More Button

Was asked: if any decision has been taken on the holding of a banking inquiry; his views on this matter; when a decision is expected to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government, at its meeting on 14th May 2013, approved the publication of the text of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013. ...More Button

As is evident from the text of the Bill, the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 envisages a central role for the Oireachtas in both initiating and conductin...More Button

National Lottery Licence Sale

Was asked: if he will include in the tender documents for the National Lottery licence a clause that requires the successful bidder to abide by a social responsibility charter; and if he will make a statement...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, I announced in April 2012 that there will be a competition for the next National Lottery licence. A document inviting Expressions of Interest from parties interested in par...More Button

The robust regulation of the National Lottery during the period of the next licence has been a priority for my Department since the outset of this process. The National Lottery Act 2013, which w...More Button

The protection of players of the National Lottery will be central to the arrangements for the next licence. Under the terms of the licence, the licence holder will be required to prepare, for th...More Button

Departmental Legal Costs

Was asked: his views on whether sufficient progress is being made in reducing the State’s legal bill across his Department and State agencies under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In the normal course, my Department uses the services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor in dealing with its own legal business. More Button

In addition, my Department, in line with its general statutory responsibilities, has been engaged with the State’s law offices, who are critically involved in the engagement of legal services, wi...More Button

- The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2009 imposed reductions on levels of professional fees, including legal fees.More Button

- The State Claims Agency has reduced fees paid to barristers by 25% and has established a legal costs unit to handle third party costs associated with the Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals.More Button

- A range of Departments and Offices have achieved reductions in legal fees and enhanced mechanisms for rigorous examination of claims have been introduced in both the Chief State Solicitor’s and t...More Button

In relation to the procurement of legal services generally by the State, the position is that such services are not exempt from public procurement rules and many authorities tender for their lega...More Button

In addition, the National Procurement Service (NPS) has set up a working group on legal services to examine ways to assist public bodies that procure legal services and to determine how resources...More Button

Public Procurement Contracts

Was asked: his view on fears expressed by the Small Firms Association that plans to centralise the way in which it buys goods and services threaten to cut small businesses out of State contracts and lead to j...More Button

Was asked: the feedback he has received from the small and medium enterprise and micro-business sectors with regards to collaborative procurement.More Button

Was asked: his views on reports that his plans to centralise procurement will exclude many small businesses from the tendering process, resulting in business closures and job losses; and if he will make a sta...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a progress update on the work of the new National Procurement Office.More Button

Was asked: the collaborative procurement training he intends to provide for business tendering for public procurement contracts.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18, 28, 32, 35 and 36 together.

  Reform of public procurement is one of the major projects of key strategic importance in the Government’s Publi...More Button

  Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 17.More Button

Public Service Reform Plan Measures

Was asked: if he has considered expanding the State's eGovernance capacity by following the Norwegian Altinn model of online service provision (details supplied); if the platform used by the Revenue service a...More Button

My Department’s eGovernment Policy Unit is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of eGovernment policy. The Government’s overarching approach to eGovernment is set out in ...More Button

Public Expenditure Statistics

Was asked: if he will indicate his targets on public expenditure for budget 2014; the extent to which these targets are influenced by the EU Two-Pack regulations; his current views on the mix of strategies he...More Button

Departmental current expenditure ceilings for 2014 were set out in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014  , published in December 2011, which first set out Departmental ex...More Button

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Was asked: if he will report on his deliberations on the proposed sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; the recommendation he will be making in relation to this proposal; and if he will make a statement o...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide an update regarding the sale of Coillte's harvesting rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 25 together.More Button

On foot of the Government’s decision last year that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, an inter-Departmental Steering Group was established, compr...More Button

The Steering Group has worked closely with Coillte to analyse the various financial, policy and technical issues that arise in the context of a sale of harvesting rights. These covered all of th...More Button

A number of detailed financial, technical and other specialist reports were also prepared for Coillte in late 2012 by external specialist consultancy bodies, in full consultation with the Board o...More Button

The Steering Group has now reported to the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine and myself in relation to its work to date. It is our intention to bring a memorandum to Government on this m...More Button

Budget Measures

Was asked: the consideration he has given to the Scottish model of equality budgeting.More Button

Was asked: in the context of the current changes to the annual budgetary process if he will consider the inclusion of equality budgeting within the new framework.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24 and 29 together.

  With regard to budgetary matters, when focusing on the primary objectives of reducing the deficit and returning sustainabil...More Button

  Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 23.More Button

EU Presidency Expenditure

Was asked: the cost to date to the Office of Public Works of Ireland’s EU Presidency; the expected total cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Legislative Programme

Was asked: when he intends to introduce whistleblower legislation. More Button

The drafting of the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013, which provides for a comprehensive legislative framework for the protection of persons who are penalised by their employers following the repor...More Button

  Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 18.More Button

  Question No. 29 answered with Question No. 24.More Button

Was asked: if he has requested ministerial colleagues to prepare a list of capital projects which are ready for commencement; the way he envisaged these would be funded; and if he will make a statement on the...More Button

Public infrastructure is funded in two main ways - Exchequer financing and Public Private Partnership (PPP) sourced-funding. My Department is responsible for setting the overall capital allocation...More Button

As regards PPPs, the Deputy will be aware that Departments and Agencies are obliged to consider procurement options for delivery of capital projects with a value in excess of €20 million. The Nat...More Button

In 2013, €3.4 billion will be invested through the Exchequer public capital programme. The breakdown of this investment is laid out in the Revised Estimates 2013 which can be viewed on my Depart...More Button

Flood Prevention Measures

Was asked: the steps being taken to address flood risks within the Shannon basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if the Office of Public Works proposes to carry out works on the Bulkawn River, Ballinrobe, County Mayo, due to the amount of land in this area that is flooding on a regular basis and causing great...More Button

Open Government Partnership

Was asked: if he has concluded his review of the case for Ireland’s membership of the multilateral global Open Government Partnership.More Button

I wish to advise the Deputy that following the completion of the assessment, which included consultations with a number of civil society organisations, I recently secured approval from Government f...More Button

Public Procurement Regulations

Was asked: if he will amend procurement rules requiring locally based agencies to purchase products from local suppliers when they are able to offer similar or better value to the nationally appointed provide...More Button

Under EU law, public contracts above a certain values must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim is to promote an open, competi...More Button

The National Procurement Service (NPS) has put in place a number of national arrangements designed to secure better value for money from leveraging the public service’s buying power in relation t...More Button

- cash savings; More Button

- administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering; More Button

- greater purchasing expertise; More Button

- improved consistency; and,More Button

- enhanced service levels. More Button

Last year my Department issued Circular 06/12 which makes it a mandatory requirement that public service bodies avail of specified national arrangements put in place by the NPS. These national ar...More Button

While the key purpose of Circular 6/12 is to enable the State to do more with less by aggregating procurement to secure better value for money, it is worth noting that such aggregation arrangemen...More Button

In order to encourage greater SME participation the NPS, over the past three years, has conducted a targeted programme of education for suppliers who wish to learn more about doing business with ...More Button

Larger enterprises were also encouraged to consider the practical ways that SMEs could be included in their proposals to maximise the social and economic benefits of the contracts that result fro...More Button

Public Sector Staff Redundancies

Was asked: his views on a query (details supplied) regarding redundancies in the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy is aware this Government is committed to developing a leaner, more efficient Public Service. To this end, we agreed on 2 October 2012 to accelerate the reduction in Public Service nu...More Button

Greater efficiencies in the way the Public Service is going about its business means that some posts have been identified by Departments as surplus. Where surplus staff cannot be redeployed, Vol...More Button

Analysis by my Department estimates that for every 1,000 employees who opt to participate in a voluntary redundancy programme there will be a gross cost of approximately €109 million. The gross ...More Button

EU Directives

Was asked: if there have been any EU Directives signed into Irish law which alter responsibility for coastal protection.More Button

Proposed Legislation

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 142 of 16 May 2013 regarding the proposed Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill, if he will clarify the current legislative posi...More Button

The Government, at its meeting on 14 May 2013, approved the publication of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013. The Bill provides for a statutory qualifie...More Button

Currently there is no general statutory underpinning for privilege attaching to private papers of Members or communications with Members. Section 17 of the Defamation Act 2009 provides absolute ...More Button

Croke Park Agreement Savings

Was asked: if his Department is no longer seeking savings of €300 million on the public sector pay and pensions bill during the remainder of 2013; the required savings now for 2013; the impact any reduction i...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he expects to achieve the targets identified by the Troika as set out in the Croke Park Agreement and its current revision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he remains satisfied that projected savings in public expenditure remain achievable in the context of the current review of the Croke Park Agreement; and if he will make a state...More Button

Was asked: if he will indicate whether in the context of discussions taking place at the LRC with his Department, he expects to continue to meet the targets set out by his predecessors with the Troika; and if...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which agreement in principle is likely to be reached in the course of current discussions in respect of achieving savings throughout the public sector; and if he will make a statement...More Button

Was asked: the extent to which ongoing discussions are taking place with various groups in the public sector in the context of the revision of the Croke Park Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the ...More Button

Was asked: if he will indicate whether all targets identified under the Croke Park Agreement and approved by his predecessors in office remain fully achievable; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69, 71 to 74, inclusive and 78 and 80 together.

  The Government is determined to achieve €300m in savings this year and €1bn by 2015 in the publ...More Button

Public Expenditure Targets

Was asked: if he will indicate the extent to which any alternatives have been examined to meet savings and targets identified by the Troika and agreed by his predecessor in the context of savings or reduction...More Button

The Government is making good progress on achieving all of our targets and priorities, as articulated in the Programme for Government. We are bringing public expenditure back to a sustainable leve...More Button

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 69.More Button

Was asked: if he will indicate, by Department, the extent to which savings as identified in the Troika have been met to date; whether any particular sectors have achieved their targets to a greater extent tha...More Button

To date, good progress has been made on delivering savings and implementing change across all Departments and all quantitative fiscal targets set as part of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Suppor...More Button

Our new Medium Term Expenditure Framework aims to incentivise Departments through the implementation of a new “carryover” facility for Departments who successfully manage their allocations within...More Button

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 69.More Button