Answered on June 27, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the massive increases in commercial rates due to be levied on businesses in County Waterford on foot of a statutory revaluation of commercial rates in Waterford city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister Brendan Howlin: As the Deputy will be aware, the national revaluation programme aims to provide up-to-date valuations for individual properties across all economic sectors that are subject to local authority rates. The revaluation process is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists for rates purposes and in individual ratepayers’ rates liabilities. The national revaluation programme is a priority for Government and is a feature of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. The programme is particularly important given the significant changes that have occurred in rental values following the economic downturn of recent years. The purpose of a revaluation is to distribute commercial rates liabilities more equitably among ratepayers based on up-to-date values. Following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability. Even though property values have fallen generally, given that the purpose is to redistribute the overall rates liability, some ratepayers will obtain a reduction while others will experience an increase from the process of redistribution but, overall, revaluation results in a fairer distribution of the rates burden.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of privately owned forests, by county, here.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications granted, by county, under the afforestation grant and premium scheme, each year since 2007 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications granted, by county, under the woodland reconstruction scheme, each year since 2007 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications granted, by county, under the woodland improvement scheme, each year since 2007 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications granted, by county, under the native woodland establishment scheme, each year since 2007 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications granted, by county, under the forest road scheme, each year since 2007 inclusive.
Answered on June 26, 2013
To ask the Minister for Finance the annual cost to the Exchequer, across all Departments, of maintaining Farmleigh House, Dublin; and the number of overnight State visitors, high-level meeting delegates, and members of the public who attended events there in the years 2010 and 2012.
Reply from the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Brian Hayes: The following are the figures requested by Deputy Deasy:
Annual Operational Costs
Operational and maintenance costs: €2,805,515
Gas and Electricity: €150,341
Operational and maintenance costs: €2,798,623
Gas and Electricity: €182,668
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of electric vehicles that have been purchased by consumers here in each of the past seven years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the State's investment in electric vehicle infrastructure in the past seven years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of applications received and granted, by county, under the electric vehicles grant scheme, since January 2011.
Reply from Minister Pat Rabbitte: (I propose to take Questions Nos. 176, 177 and 178 together.) The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which operates the electric vehicle grant scheme has to date received a total of 356 electric vehicle grant applications. I understand that 250 grants have been paid to date and that a further two are awaiting payment. 257 electric vehicles have been registered in Ireland since 2011 when the grant scheme opened. A total of €1,053,200 has been paid in grants under the electric vehicle grant scheme up to the end of May 2013.
Details of the numbers of electric vehicles registered since 2010 are set out in the table appended.
The ESB, through its Ecars programme, is continuing to roll out both publicly accessible charging infrastructure and domestic charge points, and has informed the Department that its targets are to install at least 1,000 publicly accessible charge points in all main towns and cities and 60 fast chargers on major roads by the end of 2013. As of 19 June 2013, there were 1280 charge points installed nationally. I understand that the ESB has spent €9.3m to date on this infrastructure.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of donations made to the National Museum of Ireland in the past ten years.
Reply from Minister Jimmy Deenihan: The National Museum of Ireland became a fully autonomous non-commercial semi-state body on 3rd May 2005 under the provisions of the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 and I, as Minister, have no statutory responsibility in relation to day-to-day operational matters including donations.
I have therefore referred the Deputy's question to the Director of the National Museum of Ireland for direct reply.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to Eurostat data showing that citizens of other EU states living here had a higher employment rate than Irish nationals in 2012; and the reason, in his view, this is the case.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: Higher employment rates among migrants when compared to the native populations in their destination countries is a common and observable feature internationally. This may be explained by several factors:
Firstly, movers from the EU-12 (i.e. all recently accessed countries including EU-10 and EU-2) tend to be on average younger than the overall population in their destination countries, this will impact on relativities with native populations which will have a larger proportion of people outside of the working age.
Often migrants enter a country without family members for both practical reasons and due to the typical age profile of migrants which are often relatively young and may not yet have started a family. This can affect statistics in that migrants may not have the same level of non-working adult dependents as native populations.
Furthermore, mobile workers invariably have fewer ties to their receiving country. They have a predisposition to exit the country during periods of economic downturn, reflecting the fact that the main reason for their move abroad was to find work.
In sixteen EU Member States, working age citizens of other EU countries had a higher rate of employment than the rate for nationals of their receiving country. Rates were highest in Slovenia (80.2), Latvia (76.6), the Netherlands (76.1), the United Kingdom (75.9) and Poland (75.8). The gap between the average employment rate of working age citizens of other EU countries and the local population is highest in Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. It should be noted that using the EU LFS to estimate the number and characteristics of resident foreigners, and in particular "EU foreigners", can suffer limitations. Among these limitations, in the case of Slovenia, Latvia and Poland, are the small sample size which affects the reliability of data broken down by citizenship.
In recent years the annual EU Labour Force Surveys have shown that working age citizens from the EU-10 (the group of ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004) and the EU-2 (Bulgaria and Romania acceded in 2007) had a higher rate of employment on average when they moved abroad than the residents in the receiving EU-15 countries (by a difference of +9 percentage points in 2010). Since 85% of the EU-10 as well as the EU-2 nationals living in other Member States are of working age (i.e. aged 15-64) compared to 67% of the total resident population, intra-EU movers from the EU-10 and EU-2 countries are more likely to be in the economically productive period of their lives than the native population in the receiving countries.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an estimate of the current number of vacant properties, by county, which are in the ownership of the State and under the management of the Office of Public Works inclusive.
Reply from Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Brian Hayes: The number of vacant State-owned properties per county is listed in the table above. The majority of vacant state-owned properties are comprised of the recently closed Garda stations that are no longer required for operational reasons. The remainder consist of customs posts, coastguard stations and sundry other properties.
The Commissioners of Public Works are currently assessing the options arising in respect of vacant State-owned buildings. This assessment will include other potential State uses for the properties. If and when properties are considered surplus to requirements, the Commissioners will consider options, including disposal on the open market and where applicable, viable local proposals.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding planning for the proposed extension and refurbishment of Waterford Courthouse (pictured); what the development will entail; the estimated total cost; and when he expects the project to commence construction.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: In July 2012 the Government announced an investment package which includes seven courthouse projects, including Waterford.
As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that discussions are ongoing with the Office of Public Works and the National Development Finance Agency in order to progress the projects. The projects are to be procured and delivered through a Public Private Partnership.
I am informed that the Office of Public Works is currently working on a design for the Waterford project. The development will include 6 courtrooms, replacing the current 2 courtrooms, and improved facilities for all court users, including jurors, persons in custody, and victim support. Consultation facilities will also be improved. There will be discussions with court users on the proposed design in the coming weeks.
I am informed that the delivery of a project of this scale as a traditional capital project would be likely to cost in excess of €20m. However, as the project is to be delivered on a Public Private Partnership basis, the total cost will include not only the cost of construction but also the costs of maintenance and other services to be provided by the PPP company. This will be paid by way of charges over a period of 25 years.
It is intended that this project will go through the Part 9 Planning process later this year with the PPP procurement process commencing around the end of the year. I am informed that construction could commence during 2015 with the project being completed and the courthouse being operational during 2016.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline the legal position regarding the powers of an Garda Síochána to deal with anti-social behaviour in private residential streets and estates; and the avenues of civil redress citizens may pursue.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: There is a range of strong legislative provisions available to an An Garda Síochána to combat anti-social behaviour.
The following are some of the more important pieces of legislation and there are many others which may be relevant depending on the nature and gravity of the behaviour at issue.
The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 modernised the law in relation to anti-social behaviour and related criminal actions. It provides for a range of offences which cover behaviours such as disorderly conduct, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, wilful obstruction, trespass and entry with intent to commit an offence as well as categories of violent behaviour. The Act also provides for offences for failure to comply with Garda directions.
In addition, the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008 and the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 provide Gardaí with powers to address public order problems and anti-social behaviour related to the misuse of alcohol. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 provides Gardaí with powers to deal with anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking, including exclusion orders in respect of premises and closure orders for licensed premises and catering outlets following anti-social behaviour related offences. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 gives further powers to Gardaí to tackle the misuse of alcohol, including the power to seize alcohol in the possession of an under 18 year old which they suspect is for consumption in a public place. Gardaí may can also seize alcohol to forestall public disorder or damage to property. Fixed charge notices may be issued for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. This option has the benefit of a more efficient use of Garda and Court resources, while also allowing an offender who complies with the notice to avoid a possible criminal record.
Where anti-social behaviour is directed at property, the Gardaí may have recourse to the provisions of the Criminal Damage Act 1991 which provides a range of offences and penalties, up to and including, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years for the damage, threat of damage or possession of anything with intent to damage, a person’s property.
Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults and Part 13 of the Act relates to anti-social behaviour by children. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and finally to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court. With regard to adults, they include a warning and the making of a civil order by the court.
I am advised that there are some issues which come within the remit of my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government which could be relevant to the matters referred to in the Deputy's question. In the case of private rented dwellings landlords are responsible for enforcing the obligations that apply to their tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. In this regard the Act prohibits a tenant in a private residential tenancy from engaging in anti-social behaviour in, or in the vicinity of, a dwelling to which the Act applies it also allows a landlord to terminate any tenancy where the tenant is engaging in or allowing others to engage in such behaviour, subject to a notice period of only 7 days in the case of serious anti-social behaviour or 28 days in the case of less serious but persistent behaviour.
The Residential Tenancies Act also provides that a third party directly and adversely affected by anti-social behaviour may, subject to certain conditions, refer a complaint to the Private Residential Tenancies Board against a landlord who has failed to enforce tenant obligations. A specific condition is that the third party complainant must have taken reasonable steps to resolve the matter by communicating or attempting to communicate with the parties to the tenancy concerned.
In relation to avenues of civil redress generally, it is, of course, always open to a person to seek independent legal advice in relation to the forms of redress, including civil remedies, which might be relevant to particular situations.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline in further detail the number and type of jobs to be created by the new Irish Water utility company; and the latest timeframe for recruitment to these positions.
Reply from Minister Phil Hogan: To date the establishment of Irish Water has been supported by the Programme Office within Bord Gáis, and a number of local authority and Departmental staff have been seconded to the Office to assist in this work.
The permanent Irish Water organisation is due to be incorporated shortly and currently has six staff. On-going work on a detailed Target Operating Model for the permanent organisation will be finalised in the near future and opportunities will be available for staff in local authorities to apply for jobs in the permanent organisation. It is intended that the legislation to transfer statutory responsibility for water services to Irish Water will provide for local authorities to act as agents for Irish Water with this relationship being expressed through Service Level Agreements. The majority of the existing staff will remain employees of local authorities working under such arrangements.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.