Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will request Eirgrid to grant an extension on the current deadline for submissions for the gridlink project for the South East to allow members of the public ample time in which to make their submissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister Pat Rabbitte: This is a matter for EirGrid and one in which I, as Minister, have no function.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection position regarding the ECJ ruling as to the Irish State’s obligation to adequately protect the pension entitlements of former Waterford Crystal employees; when the judgment is likely to go to be reviewed in the High Court.
Reply from Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton: The ruling by the European Court of Justice was in response to a reference by the High Court seeking clarification of the interpretation of European law emanating from EU Directive 2008/94EC on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer.
Following the ECJ ruling, the matter will now revert to the High Court for consideration. It is anticipated that the Court will set a date for the hearing of this case shortly.
Answered on July 4, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of times an order has been made since the enactment of the Valuation Act of 2001 requiring a rating authority to exercise its powers to make rates in such a manner that it does not exceed the amount of rates to be paid to it in the first year following a revaluation, except for any increase determined by the consumer price index.
Reply from Minister Phil Hogan (above): Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes, in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority. The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation of each property, determined by the Valuation Office, to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.
The Commissioner of Valuation is conducting a programme of revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties throughout the State on a county by county basis. The purpose of the revaluation process is to provide for more consistent and up-to-date valuations for rating purposes and to assist in providing a more equitable distribution of valuations across those liable to pay rates.
To allay concerns that local authorities might gain a disproportionate increase in rates income in the year following a revaluation, a provision was included in the Valuation Act 2001 to limit the overall amount of income it could raise through rates in the year following a revaluation to the total amount of rates liable to be paid to it in the previous year, plus buoyancy (arising from valuations determined in the year of a revaluation of newly constructed property), adjusted for inflation as measured by the CPI.
Rate limitation orders have been made in each of the local authorities to have undergone a revaluation to date, namely, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Orders will be drafted for Dublin City Council, Waterford County Council, Waterford City Council and Dungarvan Town Council by year end to take effect from 1 January 2014.
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 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 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding Waterford Airport Company has received from his Department under the capital expenditure grant scheme in each of the past eight years, 2013 inclusive.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding Waterford Airport Company has received from his Department under the regional airports operational expenditure subvention scheme in each of the past eight years, 2013 inclusive.
Reply by Minister Leo Varadkar: (I propose to take Questions Nos 1093 and 1094 together.) Exchequer funding provided to Waterford Airport under the capital expenditure grant (Capex) scheme and under the operational expenditure subvention (Opex) scheme from 2006 to date is set out in the following table:
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the transport capital investment programme’s public transport sub-programme in each of the past six years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the transport capital investment programme’s smarter travel sub-programme in each of the past three years.
>> Click here for the reply from Minister of State, Alan Kelly.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding County Waterford operators has received from his Department under the rural transport programme in each of the past seven years.
Reply from Minister of State Alan Kelly: As Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to the Rural Transport Programme (RTP). The RTP including allocation of funding was managed on behalf of the Department by Pobal until 31st March 2012. Following the Government Decision of 26th January 2012 in relation to integrated local and rural transport, responsibility for the management of the RTP was assigned to the National Transport Authority (NTA) with effect from 1st April 2012. The Programme is currently managed by Pobal in conjunction with the NTA as part of the Programme transition.
Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA/Pobal for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the transport capital investment programme’s roads sub-programme in each of the past six years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the non-national roads grants programme in each of the past six years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the national roads programme in each of the past seven years.
Replies from Minister Leo Varadkar: (I propose to answer questions 1087 ,1090 and 1091 together.) Details of funding for regional and local roads provided by my Department to local authorities in County Waterford are outlined in the regional and local road payment booklets available in the Dáil Library.
With regard to national roads, details of the allocations to each local authorities are also available in the Dail library. However, details of the actual drawdowns for these roads are a matter for the National Roads Authority.
Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.
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.